SPL v Partick Thistle
DUNFERMLINE 4 PARTICK THISTLE 1 Date: 05/10/02
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 5552, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: H Dallas, Weather: Mild and dry
Almost fourteen years since Partick last visited East End Park in search of league points and nineteen years since they last won here, the Jags came to try to change the Pars record of over 12 months since a reversal in the SPL at home with exception of the Old Firm. Could that strapline be changed to undefeated to Glasgow clubs in the league?
Dunfermline made 3 changes; Brewster following his red card at Pittodrie last Saturday sat this one out, injuries kept out Hampshire, Wilson but the fit again, Gus MacPherson returned. Lee Bullen was upfront and Gary Dempsey came in for Scott Walker.
The First Division Champions had the best of the opening play with last week`s double goalscorer, Alan Archibald firing in the first goal effort of the afternoon. A booted clearance kept the Jags out but for the twenty minutes the visitors won a lot of possession and Dunfermline found it difficult to get their passing game going.
The ink was being preserved in the press box and there was plenty time to reflect on how the autumnal colours were breaching the neighbouring cemetery. The fall then almost struck the home side.
Lilley gave the defence a fright with a worthy leap at the far post and the Pars were brought to life with a Barry Nicholson pass that allowed Stevie Crawford to break through the Thistle defence and force a save out of Kenny Arthur in the visitors goal.
Next minute a pass from Bullen reached Crawford and he beat of two Partick defenders to test the keeper yet again. Nicholson was next to attempt to break the deadlock when MacPherson`s throw in was returned to him by Crawford and the ex Killie man released the ball for Barry Nic to shoot wide left.
Stephen Craigan was yellow carded for a blocking tackle on Gary Dempsey on the 18 yard line on the left side. Nicholson, Kilgannon and Thomson stood over the free kick but when it was taken the Thistle defence were slow to rush out and Scott THOMSON drove the ball straight into the visitors net.
Thistle tried an immediate reply and James Mitchell`s swerving free kick had to be palmed away by Marco. Two 32nd minute corner kicks ended with Dempsey heading wide right injuring himself and Lilley.
Thistle were far from out of it as Sean Kilgannon hoofed a clearance out five minutes later and the Pars man was right in the action again as the play switched to the other end for him to cross in for Bullen. Bully`s header rebounded for Thomson and he was unlucky to find the wrong side of the roof of the net.
Four minutes from half time Mitchell almost equalised from a Hardie cross but it remained 1-0 at half time.
The second half again opened briskly with Thistle playing towards the 700 or so travelling supporters in the East Stand. There were claims for a penalty in the 51st minute when Bullen went to ground in front of the McCathie stand. Crawford played the ball out to Dempsey and Bullen seemed to be denied the challenge by the robust Thistle defence but Hugh Dallas so no wrong.
Dallas however was reaching for his top pocket however four minutes later when Gary Dempsey was dumped into the trackside in front of the dugouts. David Lilley was very late in on the tackle and when Dallas got the card out it was red. Gary Dempsey was carried off by Pip Yeates and Dr Hugh Whyte with serious ligament trouble which will almost certainly put him out of the Republic of Ireland`s U21 match in Switzerland next weekend.
One up and against ten men Thistle might have been deemed finished but on the hour Sean Kilgannon was forced into playing the ball with his upper arm instead of the intended chest and Dallas pointed to the penalty spot. Up came MITCHELL and he converted with ease from the spot to level the scoreline.
Dunfermline piled forward and Thistle retreated. Kilgannon was warned for too enthusiastically trying to get on the end of a Bullen knock down when Arthur had already the ball in his grasp. McGroarty was introduced for Nicholls with the defence being left to Skerla and Ruitenbeek.
Even Andrius Skerla was playing midway up into the Thistle half and it was only a matter of time until the Jags defence was caught out. It meant that Marco was left very exposed at the back and he had to be alert to thwart a Mitchell break with a diving save at the attacker`s feet.
In the 68th minute Dunfermline recaptured the lead when Barry NICHOLSON headed in a Gus MacPherson cross from 8 yards out.
Thistle brought on Gerry Britton in the 75th minute to try and give them something up front and the old East End Park and the no.19 was given a rousing reception from the Pars support, some in the McCathie Stand even getting to their feet.
Then a superb solo effort from Stevie CRAWFORD put the Pars further ahead. Just four minutes after coming on Britton was dispossessed by Skerla in the centre circle and the ball was pushed through for the Scotland striker to boost Berti`s hopes. Stevie rounded Paterson on the edge of the penalty box and with great confidence rolled the ball into the far right of the net.
Petrie, a 76th minute sub for MacPherson flashed a ball across the face of the goal that Kilgannon almost turned in. Then one minute into stoppage time CRAWFORD got a second when Bullen`s pass up the right was touched by Jason Dair to his long time friend to seal Thistle`s feat with yet another expertly executed finish.
John Lambie described Crawford game as "electric" and "the real difference between the teams". His movement was superb and his trickery left many of his opponents for dead.
This is the kind of fixture that the Pars need to take full points from if they are seriously going to be contenders for a UEFA Cup place at the end of the season. They won convincingly but the manager confessed to not being entirely happy with the performance which had kept the visitors firmly in the match until ten past four.
Three points and another four goals which is becoming a rather pleasant habit. Third top of the SPL, albeit with Hearts to play on Sunday but that is where we all want to stay!
Partick Thistle: Arthur; Lilley, Archibald, Craigan, Paterson, Whyte, Mitchell (Waddell 76), Buchan (Morris 89), Walker (Britton 75), Hardie, Burns
Partick Thistle Subs: Budinauckas, Milne
Partick Thistle Goal Scorers: Mitchell (61 pen.)
Partick Thistle Red Card: Lilley (55)
Partick Thistle Yellow Card: Craigan (27)
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm