SPL v Aberdeen
ABERDEEN 1 DUNFERMLINE 0 Date: 22/04/01
It would be nice to report that Dunfermline re-discovered their away form at Aberdeen and say that the 300 loyal fans who travelled north to support their team into the final folds of this SPL season had witnessed a memorable game full of incident, drama and goals.
Alas that report will have to wait, maybe after Tannadice on 6th May? Jimmy Calderwood was apologetic for singing the same old song as the needle, that was lacking on the park, stuck on the groove that the Pars away form just cannot get out of.
With only three wins now in nineteen away matches Dunfermline`s season has been spoiled by their inability to reproduce the East End magic on other soil.
For the visit to Aberdeen Crawford, Ferguson, Petrie, McGroarty and Bullen came into the side replacing Rossi, Thomson, Skinner, Danilevicius and Dair. Steve Hampshire and Stevie Crawford took the kick off with the Pars defending the Dick Donald Stand end.
The system looked suspiciously like the 2-4-4 that we saw at Tynecastle but with Skerla and Doesburg in the centre of the defence Gary Mason and Chris McGroarty looked like they were expected to track up and down the flanks as required.
First fright was soon to arrive in the 4th minute when Stavrum used the space on the right to home in on goal and Marco Ruitenbeek made a good save as he dropped to ground to stop the on-target shot. Stavrum had scored a hat trick against St Mirren in his last home appearance and the 28 year old Norwegian looked sharp from the start.
Dunfermline`s best chance of the half then fell to Lee Bullen. We were in the seventh minute when Crawford and Nicholson combined to send a good ball out right for Lee Bullen. The tackle on him from McAllister saw the ball re-bound off Lee and he collected took the ball; into the box and fired at a 45 degree angle towards the net. Unfortunately the keeper deflected the effort behind for a corner.
Stewart Petrie presence meant that he took the corners from the right but despite Dunfermline forcing seven in the first 45 there was never a Dunfermline head first to the ball. Aberdeen won a corner when a Kevin McNaughton cross was headed perilously close to the goals but over by Michel Doesburg.
Rowson tested Marco with a shot in the 14th minute before a piece of Aberdeen innovation at free kick on the right failed and McGroarty was given the opportunity to motor down the left wing. An early ball to the screaming Barry Nicholson looked promising but the Pars no.21 did not get enough behind his shot and Esson rescued the Dons.
Cato Guinveit has only scored one goal since joining Aberdeen from Brann Bergen in November 1999 and he almost doubled his tally when he met a Chris Clark corner and Marco was forced to palm away the net bound ball.
The Pars were under a bit of pressure and when Clark sent in a low cross from the left in the 31st minute Arild STAVRUM arrived before everyone to nip the ball in at the near post.
Things could have and should have got worse when Stavrum peeled off the wall at an Aberdeen free kick. He collected the ball wide right and crossed for Darren Young but he fired a great chance over the crossbar.
The only other chance of the half came when another Stavrum cross from the right was taken by Winters instead of letting the ball drop to Clark. Winters met it too early and failed to get a shot on target.
Justin Skinner came on at half time to replace Michel Doesburg. Petrie dropped back to a more left back role as Jimmy Calderwood`s most `tartan` squad of the season tried to get back into the game.
Alas the second half was one that is worthy of few words. Chris McGroarty did send in a cross from the left after 58 minutes but the ball was cut out long before it reached its target in Bullen.
Colin Nish was soon thrown into the fray making his 4th appearance of the season as sub; but not even the eager to impress youngster could do anything to break down the Aberdeen defence.
Dunfermline pushed up playing most of the second half in the Aberdeen end. The home side had the inevitable breakaways that kept Marco alert but the Dunfermline goalmouth was rarely the centre of the action. Had this been a Test Match the commentators would have majored on the dozen pigeons who managed to forage around Marco`s six yard box for lengthy periods of the half.
Nineteen year old Darren Mackie had been a 64th minute substitute for Robbie Winters and it was he who latched on to the chances that came the home team`s way. In 72 minutes he was sent straight through the middle as the limited Pars defence was breached; Ruitenbeek blocked the youngsters shot from 18 yards and then five minutes later Marco palmed an effort from the same source and the ball rebounded off the left hand post.
One more shot from Mackie after Stavrum had made the opening brought another fine save from Marco Ruitenbeek. Dunfermline did push harder towards the end with Esson saving brilliantly from a Barry Nicholson 25 yard free kick. The Scotland U21 keeper got down really low to his left to keep out Nic`s on target 88th minute strike.
Chris McGroarty had the last try at salvaging a point when one minute into stoppage time he took a ball from Crawford who was deep out left and hammered a great left footed shot that just swung to the outside of the right goalpost.
Not a sterling performance from Dunfermline despite having a lot of possession; Gary Mason tried hard; Bullen and Nicholson battled away, Andrius Skerla did well with limited assistance and Big Marco kept the score line respectable.
Aberdeen`s lowest Saturday crowd of the season reflected a view that not a lot was at stake in this game. Unfortunately for the 8613 who did turn up, the absentees missed little.
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm