SPL v Dundee
DUNFERMLINE 0 DUNDEE 1 Date: 28/01/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 4237, Kick Off: 19:45
Dunfermline sorely wanted to win this match but despite having the bulk of the play could not make the break through a sturdy Dundee defence. Jim Duffy`s club recorded only their second ever Premier League win at East End Park taking 15½ years to emulate the first upper league meeting between the club`s in October 1987.
The Pars were still without the injured Scott Thomson and Gary Mason. Chris McGroarty joined the injury list and Andre Karnebeek went back to the subs bench as Gus MacPherson and Steven Hampshire lined up for the Pars. Dundee kicked off towards the Norrie MccCathie Stand and the biggest puzzle was what was going to be Lee Bullen`s role.
Many would have guessed that MacPherson would slot into the defence between Skerla and Wilson but not so many would have followed Calderwood`s plan for Lee to play in midfield slightly deeper than the other three (a kind of Gary Mason role) but with specific responsibility to look after Gavin Rae.
Dunfermline soon assumed the control they enjoyed for the whole 90 minutes. It was the third minute when Barry Nicholson played the ball to Brewster who then quickly fed Hampshire on the right. His cross ball was collected by Jason Dair but his shot was wide right.
Less than two minutes later Stevie Crawford had a glorious chance to open the scoring. A long ball out from Derek Stillie bounced through Brewster for Crawford to collect and head for goal. He broke away and fired in a shot from 16 yards out on the right side of the penalty box. Wilkie did just enough to put the striker off and the shot screamed narrowly over the crossbar.
In the tenth minute Craig Brewster found himself with time on the far left of the box. He laced a good ball square for Nicholson to crash in a shot that broke off a defender for Steven Hampshire but just as he picked his spot he was pulled up for offside.
Brewster forced Speroni to tip his 35 yard effort over the bar and from the resultant corner kick Nicholson had another crack at goal from 25 yards which was deflected behind for another corner. This corner led to Dundee taking the lead! The visitors cleared the corner our to Steven Milne and he ran three quarters of the length of the park to send over a cross from the right. The ball looked destined for one of the four Pars players in the six yard box or thereabouts but Barry NICHOLSON managed to turn the ball into his own net in his attempt to concede a corner kick.
Just like the cold November Tuesday night in Dundee Barry had scored against his team. Bad enough an own goal but the same guy with the same motive. The goal was against the run of play and for the next 78 minutes Dunfermline tried everything to get an equaliser.
Dair had a header high over the bar from a Hampshire cross. Crawford had a shot that went straight to Speroni and in the 26th minute good constructive play from Hampshire to Crawford to Bullen wide right brought Speroni out to clutch the cross from the right just before Gary Dempsey arrived in the six yard box.
Two minutes later when the keeper parried a Hampshire cross Crawford thought about trying a shot but the route to goal was more obvious for Dair who was just to the left. Jason tried a shot but eventually it was Crawford who had his shot blocked.
A corner was won when Brewster cannoned a shot off his marker, two corners followed from the left before Bullen`s header was headed behind for a corner from the right. Dunfermline had all the pressure but they failed to breach the eight man Dundee defence so it was 1-0 to the visitors at the interval.
Rain welcomed the players back out and Dunfermline continued from where they had left it. Dair thumped a shot well wide to the left and then had an appeal for a penalty when after he was prevented from accepting a Skerla pass.
Hampshire and Brewster worked the ball to Dair in 56 minutes but his shot was high into the McCathie stand. Dair was involved with just about everything. He played the ball while sitting on the ground to Dempsey who quickly put Bullen away down the left. There were further fruitless calls for a penalty when Bully`s cross seemed to have struck a Dundee defender`s hand.
The home support were encountering frustration as Duffy`s Dee soaked up the pressure. The visitors were not going to be penetrated and they were quick o the second ball to stifle the Pars push. MacPherson and Skerla had their excursions up front as they tried to go where no one had gone before.
The home defence was sparse and they almost paid for it when Rae intercepted a Skerla pass and Caballero and Milne swiftly and neatly played the ball upfield but fortunately Hampshire got back to mop up.
After 68 minutes both managers then introduced two substitutes. Kilgannon and Noel Hunt came on for Gary Dempsey and Gus Macpherson. The two young subs were sent on to play with Brewster and Hampshire up front. Crawford dropped deeper as Calderwood`s offensive was intensified.
Three minutes passed before a Brewster sent Kilgannon up the left and the cross was headed down by Bullen but Hunt`s scramble across the six yard box could not reach the ball. Next Hunt fired wide right from a Nicholson corner.
A 75th minute free kick from 25 yards out from Brewster was fielded by the tenth row of the McCathie Stand. Nacho Novo`s pace was bothering on the counterattack but Bullen was back to prevent a second goal as Rae was lining himself up to accept.
Nemsadze tried a neat chip over the Pars defence that Rae should have despatched into the net but Stillie made a great stop to keep the Pars in the game. Back at the home end a Skerla pass let Nicholson fire in a shot but it was rocketed wide left.
Dunfermline tried and tried and still Dundee threatened to finish the contest. Rae sent in Novo but thankfully Stillie was out to make a double save. Speroni conceded an indirect free kick when he hung on to the ball for too long but the wall could not be negotiated by Brewster.
With 89 minutes gone Dair shot through the wall at a free kick and the ball spun around the six yard box tricking Bullen close in. Referee Willie Young added three minutes for all the substitutions and Speroni`s timewasting. Not enough really!
Hunt had a shot saved on the line by a defender`s hand but Brewster was judged to have fouled the keeper in the lead up. Both Skerla and Wilson put in saving tackles to deny Novo at the end but Dundee were happy to cling on to their one nil lead to grab the three points.
Rarely will Dunfermline have so little to show for so much pressure. Nicholson recovered well from his setback; Stillie showed why he is now number one keeper and Hunt looks like a useful footballer who should create much entertainment in the future.
Jason Dair tried hard to work his way through the Dundee defence and was never shot shy. He was the most direct player in the Dunfermline team which lacked the magic that Dundee could turn on through Nemsadze.
No points then from Dundee and the next three SPL matches look even tougher to collect points in. Hearts away, Rangers at home and Hibs away. Any points from that lot will be welcome but if third place is a reality then luck will need to change from this Saturday onwards.
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm