SPL v Celtic
CELTIC 2 DUNFERMLINE 0 Date: 03/08/02
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 57415, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: H Dallas, Weather: 18c drizzling, cloudy
Starting the season at Celtic Park with the home side high on unfurling the League Championship flag for the 2001-02 season was not looking like being the best proposition. The noise was deafening as Chairman Brian Quinn raised the flag. The last two Pars visits to Celtic Park brought scores more akinned to ice skating and there was the fear that the Pars would again be on the rocks in this SPL opener.
Dunfermline preferred Sean Kilgannon to Gary Dempsie in the starting line up and Celtic leave new boys David Fernandez and Magnus Hedman on the bench. Playing in their new all orange away strip the Pars defended the goal in front of the small band of travelling supporters that were crammed in the south east corner of the stadium.
The first half saw Celtic drive forward but as their play was closed out the oh so noisy home faithful grew quieter and quieter. The near things started in the 4th minute when a Gary Mason clearance went only as far as Larsson but even with Sylla to assist the early goal was not forthcoming.
Next a great ball in from the right by Larsson was met by Chris Sutton and his connection guided the ball just wide of the right goalpost. In the seventh minute a Larsson shot rebounded off Marco back to the Swede on the edge of the box and the second attempt won a corner.
A Petta corner in 11 minutes was narrowly headed over by Johan Mjallby. A Neil Lennon free kick almost reached Bobo Balde and the Pars were living extremely dangerously. Dunfermline did get forward two minutes later and a good Stevie Crawford cross from the right flew across the penalty area to the luckless Sean Kilgannon. A 25 yard drive from Bullen was driven off Petrov .
Barry Nicholson got a cross over from the right but the home defence negated the challenge from Brewster. By this stage just over midway through the first half the noise from the Celtic crowd was in stark contrast to the clamoured that had greeted the Champi-on-es less than half an hour before.
Marco saved from Sutton before Mason produced a superb pass over to Kilgannon on the left wing. Unfortunately the attack was quashed again. Bobo Balde miskicked on the edge of his penalty box and Craig Brewster was able to prod the ball inwards for Mason to shoot but his 20 yard shot went over the crossbar.
Four minutes from half time Bobby Petta swung over a cross from the left and Sutton`s shot cannoned off Skerla for a corner. The short taken corner down on the right was tapped by Petta to Sylla before Petta floted the ball into the edge of the six yard box. There in oh too familiar fashion the deadly Henrik LARSSON rose to angle in a header passed Ruitenbeek.
Half Time 1-0 Celtic
Celtic continued where they left off after the break. The impressive Celtic build up was matched however by some fine Dunfermline defending and it was the 62nd minute before Rob Douglas was involved.
It did look as though Celtic were going to dominate the second half when Petta ran through the defence to fire in a shot from 16 yards that rebounded off Lee Bullen. Sylla collected the ball on the wing and sent over another cross that Larsson just about converted.
Gary Mason breathed hope into Dunfermline`s prospects with a 20 yarder that he shot just wide left after Kilgannon had run the ball through to Brewster and he laid it back for Mason. But just as things might have got better LARSSON stuck again and the stadium erupted in the 66th minute.
Referee Hugh Dallas played advantage as Mason fouled Stillian Petrov and when he laced the ball through to the Celtic no.7 Marco was beaten by an expertly executed finish into the top right corner of the net from 20 yards out.
Jimmy Calderwood reacted by making a double substitution eight minutes later. What a transformation that made. Gary Dempsey and Scott Walker came on for Steve Hampshire and Sean Kilgannon. Stevie Crawford was to move further up and when Barry Nicholson resumed the play there was a sensational first touch in Scottish football for the young Irishman.
Having been itching to get on to the Celtic Park pitch Gary DEMPSEY took the ball as it spun up over Johan Mjallby and lifted it over the advancing Rab Douglas. For the remaining 16 minutes and the three added the Pars played the better football and Celtic looked extremely vulnerable.
Marco had to make a fine save from Petrov in the 85th minute but Barry Nicholson almost became the hero when a move started by Dempsey on the right wing just inside the Celtic half picked out Crawford who sent it wide left for Lee Bullen. Bully`s pass in was left by Brewster allowing Barry a crack at goal. Big Rab saved well but it rallied the Pars to push for the equaliser.
Dempsey rushed about creating bedlam and Bullen stayed up but in the end the Fifers were disappointed not to get a point. The mood in the camp will be far from depressed following this yet another Celtic Park defeat.
A great finish and tremendous debut for Dempsey. Celtic may have controlled the game for lengthy periods but they only won by the odd goal; maybe the Pars can get closer this season.
Celtic: Douglas; Valgaeren, Balde, Mjalby, Sylla; Lambert, Petrov, Lennon; Petta (Crainey 89), Larsson (Fernandez 83), Sutton.
Celtic Subs: Hedman, Hartson, Maloney
Celtic Goal Scorers: Larsson (41, 66)
Celtic Yellow Card: Sylla (90)
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm