Pre Season Friendly v Queen of South
QUEEN OF SOUTH 1 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 17/07/04
Fixture: Pre Season Friendly
Referee: Eddie Smith
Weather: Sunny spells 18C
The Pars travelled to Dumfries for the first time since October 1993 but never looked likely to repeat the six goal victory of that era. Yet again DA went behind to First Division opponents but came back through Billy Mehmet to register a draw and put in a better showing than they did against Clyde on Tuesday.
There was only one change from the team that started the pre-season friendly against Clyde on Tuesday, that being the replacement of Richie Byrne with Aaron Labonte. Also missing from the squad was Andy Tod. Following a minute`s silence in memory the late George Farm who had managed both clubs, the match started briskly with the visitors getting the first chance. In the third minute, former Par Brian Reid headed a clearance straight to Billy Mehmet but his shot was not good enough to beat the goalkeeper.
Following that early fright, the Queens defence had some respite and most of the play was towards Derek Stillie in the Dunfermline goal. David Bagan chipped a shot from 35 yards that curled outside the left post. Then four minutes later, in the 10th minute, Bagan`s pass to the left sent former Livingston player Tommy English on a run which he ended with a fine cross through the six yard box which fortunately no-one was on the end of. Next Bagan sent over a cross from the right and an out of sorts Andrius Skerla made a poor clearance straight to David McNiven, but his shot was equally deficient and Stillie gathered easily.
The Pars defence was looking shaky but in the 16th minute they conceded a comic book goal. Jaconelli and Bowey struggled to keep the ball out of each others way but the ball broke nicely for them, Bowey being able to break through into the Pars penalty area and square the ball for McNIVEN to sweep the ball passed the yellow shirted Derek Stillie.
The Doonhamers should have gone two ahead just three minutes later when a shocking back-pass from Dempsey, 30 yards out from his own goal, failed to go anywhere near Scott Wilson and Steve Bowey latched on to the loose ball to race in on goal. He chose to prod a shot to Stillie`s right from 16 yards. Fortunately, the keeper had forced the shot to be placed wide of the target.
It was the 21st minute before the Pars managed their second shot at goal. Barry Nicholson cut the ball back to Labonte, whose pass from the left was played back by Mehmet to Mason and his shot went wide left from 20 yards. Two minutes later, a fine pass from Dempsey found Hunt on the right touchline. Noel sent over a good cross for Nicholson at the far post, but the towering defender Jim Thomson headed away before it reached Barry. Nich was on the end of another Hunt cross one minute later, but this time his header went over the crossbar.
Dunfermline had certainly woken up and on the half hour should have got the equaliser when Mehmet`s ball from the halfway line sent Nicholson through on goal. He fed Noel Hunt the ammunition, but the Irishman`s left-footed shot from the edge of the box was first parried and then collected by keeper Colin Scott diving to this left. Four minute later, a Dempsey and Hunt double interchange set up the Pars No.9 for another shot at goal from the edge of the box. The ball appeared to be deflected off a hand as the keeper had to use his feet to make the save. No goal and no penalty.
Still Dunfermline pushed for that elusive goal and following a Wilson pass from deep within his own half, Hunt broke clear to test the keeper yet again but the shot was touched round the left post. Nicholson`s pass out to Hunt on the right was returned into the six yard box but Jim Thomson got his head to it first. The ball dropped for Mehmet who had a crack at goal, but Scott saved again.
Two minute from half time, Brian Reid`s tackle on Mehmet conceded a free kick just 25 yards out in a central position. Gary Dempsey came very close after curling the ball round the five man Queens wall, only to see Scott pull off a fine save at his right hand post. There were a rash of corners before the interval. Nicholson and Mason worked a short one that created a good chance for Dempsey bu his shot which was heading for the top right corner was touched over by the keeper to deny the Pars level terms at the interval.
The two half time substitutions were for the home team, Craig Samson replacing Colin Scott in goal and Paul Burns replacing Brian McColligan. Dunfermline changed their shape from three in the back to a 4-4-2 formation with Scott Thomson taking up a midfield role. Five minutes into the second half Scott Wilson launched a ball deep into the Queens half, MEHMET beat off the defender and the on-rushing keeper to the ball and lofted a shot that dropped straight into the far side of the net.
Ian Campbell came on for Aaron Labonte before Scott Thomson had a cracking shot well saved by the keeper diving low to his right. Stillie was kept involved holding a header from Gary Wood before the Pars brought on Jamie Langfield in his place. That substitution was one of three made in the 63rd minute, the others being a replacement strikeforce of Donnelly and Lyle for Mehmet and Hunt.
Lyle has to count himself extremely unlucky not to score against his old club. In the 70th minute Dempsey and Mason fed Thomson a ball that he cracked off the crossbar, it rebounded to Lyle whose header looked in until it was kicked off the line by Thomson, and then his overhead kick was parried by the keeper to Dempsey, but his shot was also blocked. Dempsey was providing a threat from the left flank and a cross almost put Lyle in for a header at goal, but unfortunately he was just an inch or two short to connect.
Dunfermline looked the more likely to clinch a winner with Mason bursting into the box in the 80th minute, but firstly the keeper and then a defender beat the ball away. Langfield did have to deal with a Willie Gibson shot and then in the 91st minute when Lyle was fouled by Thomson on the edge of the box, Andrius Skerla came very close to heading in the winner from the free kick.
All square at the end and so the Pars have still not won at Palmerston since 1990, but they did face the trip back to Fife better satisfied with their performance. There is little doubt that the team is short of match sharpness and possibly missing the finishing of Craig Brewster. Scott Wilson had a much more determined game and Scott Thomson looked particularly more effective in his midfield role. Derek Lyle was only given 37 minutes but he continues to impress in the short periods that we have seen him play.
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm