SPL v Motherwell
MOTHERWELL 2 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 19/02/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier
Dunfermline travelled to a freezing Lanarkshire for this SPL match postponed from 21st December. The Pars had to make two changes; the injured Bullen and suspended Brannan being replaced by Jason Dair and Gary Dempsey. Motherwell were missing the suspended McFadden and injured Dirk Lehman.
The park was heavily sanded and it the home team who adapted to the bouncing game better. Dunfermline struggled all first half with Motherwell`s corner kicks. The first after ten minutes let Partridge in for a header on target but fortunately the defences were up.
The visitors first real chance took 12 minutes to arrive but resulted from a through ball from Andrius Skerla through Craig Brewster for Stevie Crawford to shoot but high and wide left.
When Dempsey was pulled down two minutes later Davide Grondin ran over the free kick leaving Barry Nicholson to shoot from 25 yards out. Francois Dubordeau dived to his left to accept a rudimentary save.
There was 17 minutes gone when Crawford broke deep into the right side of the Motherwell box. He went to the byeline, looked up saw Dempsey waiting in the middle but chose Grondin on the other side of the box. The Frenchman`s shot was deflected behind off Tony Vaughan.
Motherwell threatened next when a long ball out of defence from Vaughan found Craig out left and he shot wide right from the edge of the Pars box.
The home side were fortunate that Referee Somers chose to give them a free kick for a tackle on Adams when the Motherwell captain was closed out on the left . He took the set piece himself and Derek Stillie did well to tip the effort over the crossbar.
One corner followed the next and the Fifers paid dearly for failing to get the ball away. A corner from the right was met by Stephen PEARSON who headed home from ten yards. The Pars tried to muster a response with Dair passing in from the left for Dempsey to fire wide left from 30 yards out.
Pearson and Fagan almost doubled the lead but Stillie did well to turn away Pearson`s shot for a corner. Brewster came close when he manufactured a chance out of nothing to break into the right side of the box and shoot from ten yards. Dubordeau stuck out his right foot to do enough to deny the Pars striker.
Five minutes from half time Dair started a move up the left and Grondin shot from the angle on the left of the penalty area. His shot struck the inside of the left goalpost and spun back on the keeper only to see it go out for a corner when really a better outcome could easily have happened.
Nicholson won a corner from a Dempsey cross but the tall Steelmen defence easily picked out Grondin`s corners. At the other end Steven Craig almost laid on a second when he got the better of Scott Wilson on the right wing and Gus MacPherson stepped in to block the shot from Clarkson.
Steven Hampshire was brought on for Gary Dempsey for the second half and play started promisingly with Nicholson getting in an early shot from 25 yards that went low but wide. Then the centre of the defence was ripped apart as Motherwell hit on the break.
Wilson, MacPherson and Skerla could not stop Clarkson and CRAIG burst through the middle for the former Rover to stick away with a low shot from the right side fifteen yards out. Fifty minutes gone and two down Dunfermline immediately cut back the deficit to one as Grondin`s cut back on the left came off Brewster to CRAWFORD who found the net from inside the left side of the `Well six yard box.
Dubordeau palmed away two near things and at the other end Skerla did well to scoop away an Adams cross. The ball was battered in again but Dunfermline cleared. The Pars came strongly into the match at this stage as their push and eagerness impressed. Grondin accepted a Crawford break to fire wide. Hampshire and Nicholson tried to penetrate the defence with Crawford and Brewster in the supporting roles.
Mason supplied a cut back for Crawford but this time the shot was too high. Everyone except Stillie was in the `Well half in the 66th ,minute when MacPherson`s ball reached Brewster but his header was headed on into the keeper`s arms.
Dair drove towards Brewster who then set up Nicholson for a shot. The blocked clearance fell to Mason but his shot was deflected off target. Hampshire was the next to miss out on a good chance when Wilson`s long ball to Brewster ended up with the half time sub heading over the crossbar.
Noel Hunt came on for Dair but it was Skerla who set up the next chance. His pass was headed on by Brewster into the path of Gary Mason. As usual the push forward created difficulties at the back as Clarkson`s pass from the byeline confused his own players and an inviting ball into the area went unmet.
Stillie kept the Pars in the game with two excellent saves with ten minutes to go. McGarty was introduced for MacPherson and still Dunfermline tried. Hunt played the ball through Brewster for Nicholson but his shot well driven but wide right.
Craig sent the ball across the Pars box and it was Crawford who was back to win possession. The kind of fighting finish that you expect from Jimmy Calderwood ensued and in the three minutes added Crawford came closest to winning a point when Brewster set it up for him to shoot from the edge of the box. Dubordeau was alert to tip Stevie`s fine cross over the bar with 92 minutes on the clock.
This was a good second half performance just a pity that the Pars never got the breaks to enable them to take a point. Good saves from Derek Stillie affirm Berti Vogts decision to include him in the Scotland Future Squad.
It was hard to condemn the defeat as being all our own fault. There have not been many successful visitors to Fir Park lately. It was November when `Well last lost at home. Hearts, Hibs and Rangers have all come and lost. Dunfermline tried in the second 45 but could find no way through and had no luck accompanying them.
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm