SPL v Dundee United
DUNFERMLINE 2 DUNDEE UNITED 0 Date: 01/11/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 5078, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Dougie McDonald, Weather: Dry 6C
Dunfermline bounced back from their humiliating CIS Insurance Cup exit at Perth on Tuesday night with a convincing SPL victory over Dundee United. Second half goals from Scott Thomson and substitute Billy Mehmet ensured that the Pars took all three points from a match in which they dominated.
Jimmy Calderwood axed Lee Bullen, David Grondin and Sean Kilgannon to make way for new signing Andy McDermott, Gary Dempsey and back to fitness, Andrius Skerla. United who went out of the same cup competition at the hands of Livingston dropped Billy Dodds, and Mark Kerr.
The visitors were quickly into attack forcing a corner in front of the Norrie McCathie Stand after just 70 seconds. The Pars took their time and preferred to build up play through possession and successful passes. The first danger in front of the United goal took 11 minutes to come and came courtesy of a good ball down the right touchline from McDermott for Barry Nicholson to centre. David McCracken headed a clearance from inside his six yard box.
Seconds later Nicholson controlled the ball nicely to take a few strides nearer goal and unleash a dipping shot that Gallagher just held. The Pars were piling on the pressure and in the 12th minute Craig Brewster sent Stevie Crawford into the left side of the penalty box. Stevie turned three times before being shut out for a corner. When Dempsey swung in the corner from the left Scott Thomson rose to head narrowly wide of the right goalpost.
On the quarter hour Crawford’s penetrating ball towards the penalty box eluded Nicholson who was playing much further forward than usual. The Pars continued to pour forward with Crawford chesting the ball down for Darren Young who picked out Thomson on the left but his fine cross was headed away by McCracken. Next minute Thomson played the ball off Brewster to shoot from 18 yards but straight into the keeper’s arms.
The McCathie Stand were raising a roar in anticipation of an opener when Brewster’s ball from the right was jabbed on by Crawford into the path of Dempsey. Unfortunately keeper Paul Gallagher forced the Irishman to shoot wide to the left of goal. McDermott had a shot but he thumped the ball wide of the other post.
Midway through the first half Brewster’s pass to Gary Mason on the right flank was centred but just too far ahead of Nicholson. All the Pars pressure had come to nothing and in the 25th minute when Jim Paterson went on a run up the left and into the box he got a lucky break off Scott Wilson and Derek Stillie pulled off a great save from near in, touching the ball to his left and Stuart Duff failed to turn in the deflection at the far post.
Despite the close attentions of Alan Archibald and Jim Paterson, Brewster managed a header on a Thomson cross but the ball went over the United crossbar. United came back with Mark Wilson taking advantage of a mistake on the left side of the Pars midfield but the youngsters cross was woeful and went out for a throw in on the opposite side of the park. Scott Wilson’s challenge on Andy McLaren presented the visitors with an opportunity in the 37th minute but Mark Wilson curled it over both the five man Pars wall and the crossbar.
Two minutes from the interval Skerla fed Dempsey a ball that he crossed for Nicholson but his header went to the keeper. Ahead of the half time whistle a Wilson crossed a McInnes pass into the heart of the Pars six yard box but McDermott headed behind as Craig Easton waited to score. United’s Wilson denied Crawford to convert a looping pass from Brewster and from the resultant Dempsey corner from the left Skerla headed narrowly wide of the right goalpost.
Those slow back to their seats missed nothing. Scott Wilson was penalised for shielding the ball to try and win a goal kick in the 49th minute. United failed to take anything from the set piece. Dunfermline got into gear two minutes later with another Dempsey, Brewster move setting up Crawford with a left footed shot which he despatched pass the far post from the left edge of the six yard box. Crawford’s ball into the box for Dempsey was cut out by McCracken but next Dempsey supplied a cross that Skerla headed narrowly wide of target.
United’s reply was a move from Duff out to Paterson which was launched into the box but easily held by Stillie. Ian McCall introduced Colin Samuel for McLaren but it was the Pars who pushed forward. Young and McDermott created openings and Thomson won a free kick for an over-enthusiastic challenge from Samuel. Young had found it difficult to decide what to do with free kicks and as he dummied this one Dempsey swung in the ball from the left touchline. Scott THOMSON rose, back to goal and headed the ball into the top right of the United goal from ten yards.
Nicholson had a shot blocked out and then Young fired at the keeper in the 63rd minute. Next a Dempsey header picked out Crawford who blasted over the crossbar from ten yards. There was a let off at the other end when an Easton cross from the left sneaked through the penalty box and out for a corner with Mason, Wilson, McIntyre and Duff failing to make any positive contact with it.
The 73rd minute saw Crawford on the end of a Mason – Brewster – Nicholson move but Paul Gallagher made a good save from the Scotland striker. Brewster drove a shot into the sidenetting before he was substituted in the 84th minute. Billy Mehmet came on for him and Aaaron Labonte was introduced in place of Gary Dempsey.The two subs tied up the points with a goal in the 90th minute. A McCracken pass was intercepted by the head of Labonte and the ball spun forward letting the former Newcastle lad to break on goal. Support was on hand with MEHMET to his left and the young striker rounded the keeper to hit the net from ten yards.
United did have two or three good chances and could have sneaked goals and like the Kilmarnock match the Pars had twenty odd shots with just two counting. This was a much better shift from Calderwood’s troops.
One victory seldom wins a war but they showed much stronger battling qualities in this match. Gary Dempsey displayed attacking form that we have not seen from him for some time and a much hungrier looking Barry Nicholson made a huge difference to the Pars attack. Scott Thomson was named the RAC Windscreens Man of the Match; his goal was a gem and his leadership significant. As for debutante Andy McDermott he looks a good acquisition lets hope he can perform like this in subsequent matches.
Dundee United: Gallagher; Innes, McCracken, Archibald; Wilson, Duff, McInnes, Easton (Kerr 77), Paterson (Robson 65), McIntyre, McLaren (Samuel 52)
Dundee United Subs: Jarvie, Griffin
Dundee United Yellow Cards: Robson (88), Innes (93)
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm