SPL v Hibernian

DUNFERMLINE 2 HIBERNIAN 1 Date: 17/03/01

Fixture: SPL

Dunfermline supporters up and down the country, and especially
in Edinburgh, will be able to go into work on Monday morning with their heads
held high as their team returned to their winning way against Hibs. A top six
place looks on as the Pars 2-1 victory took them to 40 points.  A second
successive defeat looks like finishing off Hibs Champions League attempt and
they have not won in their last six away SPL matches.


Youssef Rossi`s heel injury kept him out of the team and new
signing Lithuanian internationalist, Tomas Danilevicius was in the starting line
up.  Scott Thomson returned to the defence and Gary Mason was preferred in
midfield. Hibs were without theinjured Frank Sauzee and Ulrik Laursson, ex Par
Paul Fenwick was suspended and Russell Latapy so often a thorn in the
Dunfermline flesh was omitted because Alex McLeish considered the player not to
be in the correct frame of mind for this match.


The Hibs bench was full of dangermen and that from
Dunfermline`s point of view was the best place for them.  So it was a
strange selection for the Hibs side that kicked off towards the Norrie McCathie
Stand.  Everyone`s eyes and most commentators teeth were on Dunfermline`s
Danilevicius.  A Barry Nicholson cross after six minutes was nodded down by
the new man inside the box but there was no one to take advantage. 


Two minutes later he was unlucky to be caught offside as he
made a promising run.  Then five minutes after that he drove a wild shot
high over crossbar after a Nicholson pass was squared from the byeline by Steve
Hampshire.


The Lithuanian took a while to get to grips with the speed of
the Scottish game and when Dunfermline had two corners in the 17th minute Tomas
mistimed his shot and failed to connect.


Hibs few chances came from poor passing in the Dunfermline
team.  Mixu Paatelainen shot high and wide after 20 minutes with their
first shot of the day.  Gary Mason next had two shots at goal in two
minutes.  A ball played from the right by Nicholson ran along the 18 yard
line and Danilevicius back heeled it for Mason but the shot was way wide of the
target.


Mason`s second chance came from a Dempsie mistake but again
Mason was wide with his hurried shot.  A game that had been full of poor
passes and bad control then suddenly looked good as Dunfermline opened the
scoring. 


Jason Dair crossed from the left about 20 yards out, Mark
Dempsie`s headed clearance fell for Stevie CRAWFORD who drilled a low shot into
the bottom right of the Hibs goal.


Dair had another cross from the left immediately after. 
This time the diagonal ball had Steve Hampshire scurrying in at the far post but
the ball stayed on the wrong side of the goalpost.  Jason Dair was again in
good position just two minutes later as the Pars fans roared in anticipation as
Crawford collected and made headway down the left wing. 


His ball to his long time team mate allowed Jason to penetrate
the Hibs penalty box and send a tempting ball along the six yard line. 
Unfortunately Hampshire could not accept the chance.


Hibs then got their one and only first half shot on target but
Marco was well positioned to save easily.  The Pars had another glorious
opportunity to go two up when Tomas headed a Doesburg cross into Crawford`s
path. 


Crawford was challenged by Gary Smith but the ball broke well
for him, allowed him to cut along the face of the goals and around Colgan to
shoot at Stuart Lovell.  The rebound fell to Danilevicius but his dream of
a scoring debut was blown as the Moscow born striker launched the ball into the
outer space of the East stand.


Dunfermline`s possession in the latter period of the first
half was commanding and they went in at half time content to be ahead but
wondering how they had failed to add another

Hibs forced a corner after only 25 seconds of the second half
when Mathias Jack charged down the left wing.  The big German was then on
the receiving end of a Grant Brebner free kick but Marco was up to lift the ball
off Scott Thomson`s head.


Danilevicius was starting to get the touches and there were
appeals for a penalty when he was blocked just inside the Hibs penalty
area.  In the 51st minute big Tomas was unlucky not to poke in a goal when
Dair`s pass for Crawford produced a fine shot that was not taken cleanly first
time.


Scott Thomson was off injured when McManus shot wildly when in
good position on the right side of the area.  The let off heralded
Dunfermline`s second goal of the afternoon.  It was another ball swept out
left by Michel Doesburg that picked out Crawford.  He crossed, 
Danilevicius had a good effort which Colgan did really well to stop and Steve
HAMPSHIRE was available to convert the rebound.


Hibs brought on Mark Libbra and David Zitelli and they began
to cause the Pars problems in a defence that was collecting injuries. Ruitenbeek
fisted away a well struck Zitelli free kick which was definely heading for the
net.  Lovell had a cross which Paatelainen headed wide off the outside of
the left goalpost.  Skerla twisted his ankle in a tackle the referee waved
on and Doesburg was suffering from cramp.


After 71 minutes Dair had one of those efforts that has put
him in the ratings for goals from a distance.  The ball rebounded back into
play after thumping the right cornerjoint of the Hibs goal.


Hibs pushed forward brought back from the dead by Libbra and
Zitelli.  Ruitenbeek palmed a Zitelli shot over for the first of three
corners Hibs then won.  Libbra had a shot blocked by Libbra as things
became less and less comfortable for the home team.


Nobody seemed to have told the Hibs substitutes that this was
a fortress at East End Park.  The shut out went over the ramparts with the
Pars defence falling all about the place.  Murray got the goal with three
minutes remaining.  It was a nervous finish with Ruitenbeek again saving
from Zitelli and palming another behind.


The Hibs fans behind Marco`s goal were already all on their
feet trying to will their side to score an equaliser when there were appeals
that Dair used a hand.  No penalty though.  Nicholson was yellow
carded for a desperate tackle after one minute of the prescribed two minutes of
stoppage time.  This puts him over the points total and means a suspension
will follow.


The final whistle meant three well earned points for the Pars
for whom Dair was announced the match sponsors Man of The Match Award. 
Just as well the next match is two weeks away; a number of players took knocks
the worst being Andrius Skerla who was sent to the Queen Margaret for a
precautionary x-ray on his ankle.  It doesn`t look like he will be going to
Hungary and Italy next week.




Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm