SPL v Dundee
DUNDEE 0 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 21/02/01
Fixture: Scottish Premier League
A 1-0 victory at Dens Park gave the Pars their third away win of the season and takes them into 5th position in the SPL. This win over fellow top six contenders Dundee puts Dunfermline in a strong position five points ahead of Motherwell in 7th and seven points ahead of Dundee.
There was not much excitement to keep the fans warm in a dull second half where Dunfermline gave a fine defensive display to win by a 12th minute Barry Nicholson goal.
Youssef Rossi was in Morocco on World Cup duty, Andy Tod retained his place, Garry Mason was on the bench and changed places with Jason Dair. Marinus Dijkhuizen was also relegated to the bench to make way for the return after injury of Stevie Crawford.
Dundee were without Sara, Nemsadze and Tweed all out suspended and according to Ivano Bonetti a number of Dundee players started despite not being fully fit.
There was no repeat of the 12 second goal witnessed between the teams back in August. Instead the first opportunity fell to Dunfermline`s top goalscorer David Moss as a high Justin Skinner lob fell to Mossy in space not far out of the penalty box but he failed to take advantage.
From a Ruitenbeek goal kick after 12 minutes Stevie Crawford was able to play a square ball out to his right where Barry NICHOLSON struck from 20 yards out. His hot hit Marcello Marrocco on the back as he turned away from the shot and was deflected passed a helpless Marco Roccati into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
There was an appeal for a penalty three minutes later when Andy Tod chested down from Carranza in the centre of the penalty box. With what must have been the local temple of the Hari Krishna striking up the music Dundee pushed up and Willie Falconer met a Caniggia cross but the header was well saved by Ruitenbeek.
Referee Tom Brown blew full time on his match in a bizarre moment when he ran to the Dundee dugout in the 26th minute holding his arm. The referee limped off with what turned out to be a fractured finger. Andy Tod`s pass had hit the referee a few minutes earlier and one has to assume that it was the Kelty man`s fault that the official took an early bath.
Fourth official, Glasgow whistler Colin Hardie quickly ripped of his track suit top to reveal the yellow shirt and the substitution went ahead fairly seamlessly. It must be one of the few occasions that Tom Brown has been applauded off the park by both sets of fans.
A misplaced pass from skipper Fergie let Caniggia away down the wing and Marco was forced to save from Falconer. Carranza then had a cross from the left saved off Falconer`s header by Marco.
Beto Carranza and Steven Milne were substituted before the break as Dundee`s injury problems got worse. Half time came and it was the Dunfermline support who were on song as they celebrated the half time lead.
Whilst Dundee emerged for the second half looking like they had had a stiff half time team talk, it was Dunfermline who produced the first chance of the half. Chris McGroarty sent the ball out left for Scott Thomson and he beat off the defence to advance into the penalty box and cut back towards Stevie Crawford. The pass was unfortunately cut out before it could reach the Pars no. 9.
The Dundee fans drew in a big breath on 49 minutes ready to celebrate a goal as Javier Artero`s cross landed on the head of Lee Wilkie but the big Dundee laddie managed to head over the crossbar and deflate his supporters. Andrius Skerla picked up a yellow card for his challenge on Caniggia before Dundee yet again threatened to draw level.
Wilkie was able to drive in on goal down the right defensive flank but Marco was good enough to stop him. Dundee had been able to win and keep a lot of the possession but their efforts had borne no fruit and they gradually looked less and less likely to score.
After 56 minutes David Moss started and finished a move with Scott Thomson which ended with the ex Bairn heading with little venom at Roccati. Just two minutes later McGroarty cut one back for Thomson but the shot was too weak to carry any hope of beat the Dundee keeper.
Dair found Thomson next and as he travelled along the edge of the box without finding an opening he passed it back to Ferguson who blasted wide from 25 yards. Lee Bullen came on for a very disappointed Moss. Toddy headed just over from a Dunfermline corner which came in the midst of three Dundee corners. Nothing came of those but an Artero cross looked dangerous until Rae headed over the crossbar.
Eleven minutes from time a Ruitenbeek throw out sent Bullen scurrying down the right wing. Lee`s cross could have been earlier and when it did it gave Thomson little opening and Crawford tried to send it out left to McGroarty but the ball slipped behind for a goal kick.
Dundee had a final fling with Artero shooting at Ruitenbeek and 18 year-old sub Marco Russo shot wide. Marco was forced out of his box to head a clearance on full time and preserved the clean sheet to set a Premier League record number of 12 shut outs for Dunfermline.
A fine win in which the defence excelled. Skinner and Skerla were solid, and "Youssef Toddi" ensured that nobody missed the absent Moroccan World Cup star.
DUNFERMLINE: 3-5-2; Ruitenbeek; Skinner, Skerla, Tod; Dair, Nicholson, Ferguson, Moss (Bullen 64), McGroarty (Doesburg 85); Thomson, Crawford.
Subs not used: Thomson (GK), Mason, Dijkhuizen.
Scorer: Nicholson (12)
Yellow Card: Skerla (51)
League Position 5th
Strip: Red Shirts with white shorts and socks
DUNDEE: 4-3-3: Roccati; Del Rio, Smith, Coyne, Marrocco (Russo 64); Artero, Rae, Carranza (Yates 45); Caniggia, Falconer, Milne (Wilkie 45)
Subs not used: Langfield (GK), Zujovic
Yellow Cards: none
League Position: 9th
Strip: Home Dark blue
Referee: Tom Brown (Colin Hardie 26)
Next Match (League) v Hearts Saturday 24th February 2001 (no tickets required)
POST DUNDEE COMMENTS
from Jimmy Calderwood and Ivano Bonetti
Pars boss Jimmy Calderwood was first asked just how many matches excluding the Rangers match that was undefeated .
One in eleven league and cup games, I like to count friendlies because I like to win. Counting two in Morocco, one against Raith Rovers away."
The victorious manager had the following thoughts about his team`s performance against Dundee: -
"Defensive performance good; all round performance on the ball was poor. We started very well and looked confident. Even in midfield we were probably too impatient on the ball at that moment. We got the break and got the goal. We looked very dangerous and Ivano changed it by putting Milne on the leftside which caused us a wee bit of a problem to be honest.
"Lucky for us although unlucky for the lads and for Ivano they got two injuries in the first half which upset them again. It is difficult when you have as many players as they`ve got injured but you still have got to win the game. The other lads battled on.
"I thought our choices second half when we were on the counterattack weren`t good. Our final pass was bad and we were running offside when it wasn`t needed. So it kept them in the game when we should have killed them off then.
"They didn`t have that many chances; big Marco kept us in the game a couple of times first half. Another clean sheet and we defended very well. It is a very important three points for us.
"We are very difficult team to beat; they are solid and football is all about confidence. Winning games or not losing games breeds confidence. We sat back too much tonight; we could have pushed up a bit more but they know we don`t give many goals away and subconsciously they go back. With Dundee missing that many class players it is difficult to play through us. If Nemsadze or Sara was playing it would be a different story."
Jimmy was asked if he thought that it had been a great year for Dunfermline?
"Great years are just when you win something! For us it has been a very succesful year already, we just wanted to stay up. I think we have got that far since we are up to fifth at the moment. Long may it continue.
"We have a difficult game at Tynecastle; I said yesterday that of the last six games - two at home and four away we only took one point in those six games at the beginning of the season so we are better than that at the moment. If we can win the game at Tynecastle we will be very difficult to stay out of the top six."
Does Jimmy feel that life is difficult when you cannot watch from the dugout?
"I have been banned for a month and I am nearly banned from the Directors Box I think. This is a long way this one here."
So why did it look as though Jimmy Nicholl could not work out your instructions?
"We had the modern technology but it wasn`t working. He`s Irish we don`t understand each other that good. No we couldn`t hear it because of the crowd.....I don`t think he wanted to hear me he likes to do it himself."
Whoever brought about the change in fortunes how did Jimmy Calderwood feel about the transformation since the last match here at Dens Park.
"It`s self belief. We came here at the beginning of the season and were well beaten. Any team with the players that they have out it is so difficult. We had it at Easter Road in December when we could barely raise a team. It just shows you in football. We are going well now; only one game defeat at Ibrox and hardly any injuries.
"It`s amazing and that`s football. When you are having a bad time you get one injury after another and you start getting injuries in training. The confidence is sky high and they know that they are a reasonable team and they know that they defend well. We have got people who can score goals as well.
"We are a very difficult team to play against because we are quite well organised."
Barry Nicholson has been a success since coming from Rangers in August, what did Calderwood see in him when signing him.
"It was always a big gamble for him. Coming from Rangers it was not easy. He had to take a drop in wages but he is getting games and that is important for him. He is doing well; he had a wee bit of a dip about 2 or 3 weeks ago and we told him so but he has picked it up again.
"He is a very good player, he has good vision and a great touch. He is starting to score goals. We have done a bit the same - I am not trying to copy Dick at Ibrox - but we have tried push him forward a bit like Dick did with Barry Ferguson. He is getting into these positions now. He is a great striker of the ball and he is always going to have chances of scoring goals."
Dundee manager Ivano Bonetti
"We have bad moments because we have many, many players with problems and suspensions. After twenty minutes we lost another three players.
"It`s a bad time, they shoot one time and they score and then we lost Beto and Marrocco.
"He wasn`t 100% and he can`t play, run or shoot - he can`t do nothing. That`s why it`s difficult. It was a bad moment in an important match. They have got 37 points now that is why.
"It was a poor game anyway. To tell you the truth, I didn`t see quality. I saw some skill from my players but, apart from that, it was a very poor game.
"I do not looking for excuse, but true is we have done all we can at this time and what can I say to my players?
"There are many games, there are many problems. We have bad luck at this time too because we could have won tonight. We had three clear chances but their goalkeeper had three wonderful saves. With a little bit lucky we could win or draw.
"We want to go in the first six because we have that target and then we believe that we still have a chance."
POST MATCH COMMENTS FROM BARRY NICHOLSON
It is all about the team getting three points.
Barry Nicholson`s fifth goal for Dunfermline meant that the youngster was requested to meet the press after the win over Dundee: -
"It is always nice to score a goal but it this stage of the season it doesn`t really matter who scores the goals, it is all about the team getting three points.
"The goal took a deflection; a little bit bigger than the one on Saturday but still claiming it. It is always difficult to come here as we found out earlier on in the season on my debut when we lost 3-0 that day. When you are pushing for a top six spot it is good.
"It is a massive game for us on Saturday at Tynecastle. If we can pick up a point or even the three points then that would set us in good stead for the remainder of the season.
"I think everybody knows now that I came to Dunfermline to play first team football. To be fair the gaffer has given me my chance, I think that is my 33rd game now and I haven`t missed one. I just hope touch wood, I don`t get injured and I can just keep it up. I am delighted with what has happened with coming here and playing every game so hopefully I can keep it going.
"I am a little surprised, I didn`t know what to expect when I first came. The side have been excellent; passing it about well all season and I think we probably deserve the position we are in now. It is a nice surprise.
"I can`t speak for everybody else but I felt I was getting to the age where I wanted to play every week. I didn`t think that I was going to get my chance at Ibrox with the players that they were bringing in. I just decided when my chance came to come to Dunfermline, I took it with both hands and luckily it has worked out well for me."
How important is the gaffer to Barry Nicholson`s success?
"I didn`t know him at all. The first meeting I had with him was in Glasgow and right from then i knew what he was all about really. To build a team that was going to pass the ball and I just liked the sound of it and to be fair since I arrived the training and the games I have played have been really excellent.
"The winter break there in Morocco was good for our training and our game. Him and Jimmy work well together to get the best out of the boys on a day to day basis and it has worked out for us.
What can you achieve at Dunfermline?
"We are only thinking about the top six at the moment, we have not really spoken about anything else. Our main aim at the start of the season was to avoid relegation. Now we are in such a strong position we will be very disappointed if we don`t finish in the top six."
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm