SPL v Celtic
CELTIC 3 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 02/12/00
What a wonderful stadium Celtic Park is. 59224 people filled the stands from top to bottom and there was little building up required from Manager Jimmy Calderwood. While declaring that he looks forward to every match he admitted that every player enjoys playing on such a large stage.
And what an entrance! Barely had Celtic touched the ball and Dunfermline had the ball in the net. The Pars kicked off playing east to west; Celtic did touch the ball in turning it out for a throw in but then Rob Matthaei was allowed time to decide on a perfect ball left for Jason DAIR. The Pars left wing back let go a shot that just sailed into the top left hand corner of Rab Douglas` net.
Wiaow! What a strike and oh how the travelling support enjoyed the moment and the next 8 minutes. Being a connoisseur of football pies I can testify that the one thrust in my mitt in the second minute might have been Beef Wellington because the taste buds were being told to truly savour this moment.
Pie consumed the contentment was short lived. A warning had been shot across the bows in the sixth minute when Marco Ruitenbeek intercepted before Henrik Larsson could get on to the cross. Then only three minutes later Lubomir Moravcik found himself lonely on the far side of the box. When the cross came in from the right the Celtic star slotted in the equaliser.
Rob Matthaei and Barry Nicholson acquired yellow cards before the indecision of Justin Skinner let Henrik Larsson in for the second on 21 minutes. There was the option of a pass back to the keeper or a boot out of play. Instead the Pars central defender chose to try to play the ball around the Celtic man but lost the ball and the super Swede put the ball away with precision into the far side of the net.
Five minutes later Tommy Johnston put his chance over the crossbar. Celtic again had the chance to increase their lead when they were awarded a free kick for Skinner`s foul on Agathe. The set piece was hit by Johnston and the shot grazed the left hand post. Celtic came forward again. The ball looked as though it had gone out for a goal kick but there was no flag so Celtic immediately came close again as Larsson sent the ball inches past the other post.
There were not many Celtic fans who would believe that Johnson was onside in the 35th minute and as he round the keeper the Pars were fortunate that Scott Thomson had got back to clear off the line.
A Bacon factory would appear to have fewer hamstring problems than Dunfermline. With Ian Ferguson and Chris McGroarty going down in the last two matches; Jason Dair and Eddie May were both victims of the Pars malaise before the half time interval arrived.
Steven Hampshire came on for May at half time and Steven Boyle had been brought on for goalscorer Dair after 38 minutes. Lee Bullen found himself at right wing back for the second half as Hampshire was put up front with Crawford.
Dunfermline won a lot of possession in the opening ten minutes of the half but the nearest we came was in the 56th minute when a Boyle cross evaded Moss but fell for Scott Thomson. Thomson`s shot was blocked and Barry Nicholson shot the clearance over the crossbar.
Celtic continued to put the ball into the Pars box but Ruitenbeek looked comfortable cutting out the danger. After 69 minutes a Larssen pass to Sutton ended up going just over the bar. Two minutes later a Larsson shot went straight to Ruitenbeek`s arms.
Dunfermline`s best chance to get on level terms came in the 76th minute when Scott Thomson sent Barry Nicholson up the right to send over a cross. Stevie Crawford just failed to connect as the ball flew across the six yard box.
Ten minutes from the end drama as Lee Bullen was adjudged to have taken down Bobby Petta and Mike McCurry awarded another penalty against the Pars. This time Marco guess right, dived left and saved from Larsson.
Scarcely had the joyous Pars fans settled when the post penalty corner from Thompson was headed in by Tommy Johnston. The fate of the points was settled and the Celtic fans streamed out of Celtic Park like the proverbial snow off a dyke.
Dunfermline were beaten but had, at least, competed. Every player gave his best; there is little else you could ask for. Unfortunately Celtic found the weaknesses and cruelly the punished the Pars to clinch their three goals. Never mind the pies were good and there is no need to suffer the indigestion of a not surprising scoreline.
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm