CIS Insurance Cup v St Johnstone
ST JOHNSTONE 3 DUNFERMLINE 2 Date: 28/10/03
Fixture: CIS Insurance Cup
Attendance: 2769, Kick Off: 19:45
Referee: John Underhill,Weather: Dry 8C
The clocks having gone back at the weekend seems to have caused no end of confusion in the Pars camp. A dire performance in their League Cup tie in Perth suggested they had slightly overcompensated and were a further eighty minutes behind everyone else inside the ground.
The McDiarmid pitch was in great condition and was perfect for good passing football - how unfortunate then that the Pars opted not to bother with any until it was too late. Offering no width and a series of aimless long balls straight up the middle of the park, the visitors did not look like a threat at any point the first half.
In fact, less than ten minutes of the game had elapsed before the home team took the lead. Derek Stillie rushed out of his box to clear a dangerous ball and managed to head it away. Unfortunately for the Pars it dropped to Simon DONNELLY, who lobbed it over the Pars keeper as he scrambled back to his goal line.
A tackle by Scott Wilson should have prevented a second chance for the Saints but a lucky break saw the ball fall into the path of Parker. Stillie was quick off his line to block the effort from a tight angle though and gathered the ball safely into his arms at the second attempt.
It made for grim viewing for the visiting support, as the closest the Pars could manage to goals were a couple of off-target efforts from Nicholson and Brewster.
At the other end, Scott Thomson had to clear the danger after a mix-up between Bullen and Stillie almost saw St Johnstone grabbing a second. Just before the break, McLaughlin tried his hand from a Parker cross and the Pars defence were spared more blushes as he drove his shot over the bar from ten yards.
The second half saw a marginal improvement from the visitors and their first attack of the half was eventually broken down only by Lee Bullen being shoved to the ground at the edge of the box. It was a difficult decision as to whether the foul had been committed inside or outside the box, so referee Underhill spared everyone the effort and let play continue. With almost an hour gone, the Pars managed to carve out one more half chance when the Brewster and Crawford partnership combined to set up David Grondin but the Frenchman`s well-struck shot sailed just over the bar.
Within five minutes the Pars had their best chance so far and again Grondin was involved. His low, curling cross was perfectly weighted to sneak in behind the Saints` defence to where Crawford, having timed his run to perfection, waited to pounce. The plan was abruptly halted however when Crawford was tripped by Forsyth. It appeared to be as clear-cut as could be but once again the man with the whistle had other ideas.
It must surely have been more in hope than expectation then that Scott Thomson argued over a goal kick a short while later when the ball appeared to have gone out of play via the arm of Robertson. If these decisions were not enough of a hint that it was not to be the Pars` night, then another goal for the hosts must have sealed it.
Failure to deal with a corner kick allowed Darren DODS to arrive unchallenged at the back post and nod home with ease. The game was killed off completely just three minutes later when once again a ball to the back post proved troublesome for the Pars. MacDONALD had all the time in the world to finish and made no mistake in putting his team three up.
With ten minutes remaining the Pars grabbed what looked like being a solitary consolation goal. Latching onto a through ball, Stevie CRAWFORD turned a half-chance into a wonder goal, lobbing Cuthbert from long range.
Only now did Dunfermline attempt to play football and sure enough just two minutes after grabbing their first goal, a second arrived. Gary Dempsey`s cross was headed clear by Dods but only as far as the edge of the box. Darren YOUNG let fly with a superb shot and, with only their second shot on target in the game, the Pars had a second wonderful goal.
Was this to be the start of a memorable comeback? "No" is the simple answer and the Pars last real chance to level matters ended with a decent claim for handball in the box against Bernard. The referee had already turned away stronger claims than this though and it was no great surprise to see him ignore this one as well. In the end, the late flurry by the Pars did nothing but add a little bit of respectability to the score line that their performance barely merited.
St Johnstone: Cuthbert; J. Robertson, Forsyth, Bernard, Dods, Maxwell, MacDonald (Hay 80), M. Robertson, Parker, Donnelly, McLaughlin (Malone 83)
St Johnstone Subs: Nelson, Paatelainen, Stevenson
St Johnstone Goal Scorers: Donnelly (9), Dods (70), Macdonald (73)
St Johnstone Yellow Card: J. Robertson
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm