SPL v Motherwell
DUNFERMLINE 1 MOTHERWELL 1 Date: 13/12/98
Yet another draw in unspectacular fashion. The Dunfermline management were given the vote of confidence this week when talk of bringing Clydebank manager and former Par, Ian McCall to East End Park was dismissed.
Perhaps the rare acquistion of an away point at Ibrox last Saturday was enough to shower praise back on Paton and Campbell but no statistician would have been surprised as draws are a common occurrence for Dunfermline. Two wins this league season and 10 draws mean that the Pars prop up the table.
This was yet another performance to suggest that First division football looms. Vouchers were handed out at this match for supporters to use to obtain tickets for the New Year fixture with Hearts; the Millenium fixture will be against Raith unless things change.
Bert Paton made a surprise decision to leave Brazilian Edinho on the bench, a decision he must surely admit to have being wrong and handed Stewart Petrie a start. The match kicked off at 2.57 but latecomers missed nothing because the half was 24 minutes old before there was a shot at goal.
In the opening minutes Andy Smith appeared to be pushed over inside the penalty box as a cross came in from the left but Referee Alan Freeland chose to ignore the Pars claims. The thirteenth minute was almost unlucky for Richard Huxford as, the uncomfortable at right back, Englishman teed up a shot for Lee McCulloch which fortunately was wide. Scott McCulloch had a shot tipped over the bar but Spencer and Christie were combining well as Motherwell became encamped in the Dunfermline half. Chances fell to Spencer and Coyle before the latter was forced to retire injured. Valakari dispossed Huxford but his shot too was wide. Stephen McMillan sent a 25 yard free kick over the bar
Huxford was booked for a stupid tackle before Hamish French and Andy Smith had good efforts deflected away from goal as Mikko Kaven failed to hold with four minutes to half time.
Less than a minute into the second half Motherwell were presented with a gift. Lee McCulloch`s shot was cleared by Andy Tod straight to the unmarked Spencer who shot the goal low to Butler`s left. As if that wasn`t bad enough within two minutes Andy Tod took down Spencer and as last man in defence received his marching orders. Hamish French shot over the bar in the 54th minute and clearly changes were needed when Edinho came on for Graham in 62.
The Brazilian brought the Dunfermline effort to life and the one man deficit was barely noticed. Andy Smith immediately almost levelled and the crowd warmed to the change of attitude. It was Edinho who fought hard on the left to earn a corner in the 78th minute. With no Tod, Ireland or Squires the cross had to be aimed at captain Andy. Marc Millar delivered with precision and ANDY SMITH headed in the equaliser.
Chris Templeman was brought on with 8 minutes remaining and he went for everything as he demonstrated that the Pars were desperately needing some fresh enthusiasm. Doesburg was eventually red carded with two minutes remaining. The Motherwell defender had disregarded the first yellow card warning and continued to tackle in such a way that his departure was as predictable as Porrini`s had been last Wednesday. With the sides level on goals and players it was Motherwell who put in the final push. Brannan forced a good save from Butler and Spencer fired over the bar as Dunfermline lived dangerously through the time added on period.
Edinho`s introduction made a huge difference to Dunfermline. Even if he is not fit to last a whole game he should be deployed from the start. Edinho apart, Shields was the only other Par worthy of praise. Greg Shields played well in the central defence but the team misses his strong running and service down the right. David Graham has still to impress, Petrie and French put in poor perfomances and one really wonders if Bert Paton knows what his best line up is.
Huxford is suspended for next Saturday`s match at Celtic Park; now Andy Tod joins him. Changes will be enforced whether or not it makes any difference I sincerely doubt. Another draw would be viewed as an achievement but with Motherwell playing Dundee on Wednesday and Aberdeen visiting Dens on Saturday we could be stranded at the foot in time for Christmas. If the recent matches against Killie and `Well are anything to go by we will be relegated by Easter.
DUNFERMLINE : Butler; Huxford, Shields, Tod, McCulloch; French, Ferguson (Templeman 82), Johnson (Millar 28) Petrie; Graham (Edinho 62), Smith.
Subs not used: Westwater, Martin
Yellow cards: Huxford (38), Ferguson (48)
Red card: Tod (47)
League position: bottom
Referee: A Freeland (Aberdeen)
Attendance:.5182 (810 of which were Motherwell)
Pre Season Friendly v Hibernian, Thursday 6th July 2017, kick off 7.45pm