SPL v Celtic
DUNFERMLINE 0 CELTIC 3 Date: 02/01/12
Attendance: 10140, Kick Off: 3:00pm.
Referee: Iain Brines
Celtic were the first foots at East End Park where Dunfermline were seeking their first home win of the season. A tough task given Celtic`s nine consecutive SPL wins since 6th November and their record of just two defeats in 25 Premier League games in Halbeath Road. From the side that lost to St Johnstone Jim McIntyre was without Jason Thomson who has returned to Hearts. John Potter and Gary Mason came in to the side with Joe Cardle relegated to the bench.
Cetic made one change Biram Kayal, being replaced by Anthony Stokes.Their fans filled the East Stand, the entire North Stand and the east end of the Main Stand and were all to stand for the entire game. The Dunfermline sections of the Main stand were busy but the McCathie Stand maybe struggled to be two thirds full but of course, the game was live on ESPN.
The Pars kicked off attacking the goal at the Cowdenbeath end but it was Celtic who did the early attacking but the Pars defence did well to stem that. The visitors composed themelves with several completed passes before winning the first corner of the day in six minutes.
It was the orange boot of Charlie Mulgrew that curled the corner into the Pars six yard box and it was Paddy Boyle who scrambled the ball away. Stokes and Samaras breached the right side of the home defence and Stokes ball across the face of goal was dangerous but the chance was not taken.
Chris Smith was out fast to dive on a weak header back to him, bravely taking the ball in front of the inrushing Stokes. In 11 minutes Hardie and Stokes tussled on the left byeline but it was the Pars player who won the free kick. Celtic continued to enjoy all the possession and Hooper`s run down the right earned Celtic another corner that the Pars cleared well despite Boyle taking some time to recover from an injury in the process.
An 18th minute corner was to bring about the opening goal. Mulgrew took the return from a short taken setpiece and his ball was defended out only as far as STOKES on the edge of the box and he curled a fine shot into the top right corner that gave Smith absolutely no chance. The striker`s 12th goal of the season made it 0-1.
Four minutes later Smith did really well to fist a ferocious shot from 25 yards by Victor Wanyama after a Mason clearance had landed nicely for the Celtic no. 67`s snap shot. There had not been much in the way of attacks from the Fifers but Graham and then Hardie injected brief encounters but Celtic broke up the moves without much trouble.
The Pars defence did calm the swell of play towards Smith as half time approached only Mulgrew`s long ball for Stokes giving the all green Pars keeper anything to do. Hardie took a head knock in a challenge with Wanyama but was okay to continue. Scott Brown burst through the middle on 37 minutes, winning the ball back off defenders before thrashing a shot wide right.
Next minute Graham held the ball up well for Hardie to get in Dunfermline`s first shot at goal but he too screwed the ball right of target from 20 yards. At the other end Hardie took down Samaras to hand the league leaders a free kick 30 yards. Mulgrew sent the ball to the far post where WANYAMA ghosted in to volley home.0-2.
Paul Burns then had a good chance as the Pars burst fast through the left channel but his effort was stopped by Forster. Celtic finished the half in the home half and at the break looked comfortably in charge.
Half time: Dunfermline 0 Celtic 2
Pouring rain greeted the second half and there was some early positive play from the Pars with Graham, Burns and Barrowman trying to make inroads into the Celtic defence. Joe Cardle was an early sub as Gary Mason was withdrawn as the Manager made his first tactical change.
Cardle assumed a role on the left, Graham moved into central midfield alongside Burns and Hardie patrolled the area between them and the back four. On 55 minutes a Barrowman flick down from a cross in from the left but there was no one to take the opportunity. Likewise at the other end when Ledley crossed from the left as well.
A really strong run on the hour from James Forrest beat off defenders to produce a fantastic chance. His final ball in from the right went across the face of goal, Samaras was nearest but he was unable to get the touch for a tap in and the ball escaped beyond the far post.
On 63 minutes Dowie fed Willis on the right and his cross was turned behind by Adam Matthews for Dunfermline`s first corner of the afternoon. Willis`s inswinger from the left was punched away by Forster and that was the last contribution for the youngster as Andy Kirk was inroduced.
As the game went into its final quarter Forster was well out at the top of his box to thwart Barrowman as the Pars created a chance and then in the same forward movement Kirk was able to play the ball back for Hardie to drill a shot narrowly wide left.
Celtic increased their lead on 69 minutes when MULGREW sent a free kick on the right over the Pars wall and passed Smith. Next Brown set up Samaras for a shot from inside the box on the left side but this time Smith blocked that well.
Liam Buchanan was the final throw of the dice in 76 minutes when he replaced Barrowman and a chance came Hardie`s way but he drove that into the McCathie Stand. Back at the other end Smith turned a Forrest stinger over the bar after Samaras had failed to take a well teed up chance from Brown.
Nine minutes from the end Boyle did well to avoid being chopped down by Ki as he slid through the Pars player. Both players got yellow carded as the crowd cried out for Ki to be sent off. Graham dispossessed sub Emilio Izaguirre,in his six yard box but there was no one to convert the yellow boots cut back.
Stokes sent a 25 yard strike wide left, Izaguirre made a break up the left but Stokes was offside as he hit his shot at Smith. The 100th league meeting between the clubs ended as 73 of them had done before with a Celtic win and it remains over 22 years since Dunfermline have beaten the Glasgow side in the league in West Fife.
DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith, Andy Dowie, John Potter, Alex Keddie, Paddy Boyle; Paul Willis (Andy Kirk 65), Paul Burns, Gary Mason,(c)(Joe Cardle,52), Martin Hardie, David Graham, Andy Barrowman Liam Buchanan 76).
SUBS NOT USED: Ryan Goodfellow (GK), Craig Easton, Ryan Thomson, Shaun Byrne
YELLOW CARD: Boyle (81), Burns (91)
CELTIC: Fraser Forster, Adam Matthews (Du-Ri Cha 76), Thomas Rogne, Charlie Mulgrew, Joe Ledley; James Forrest, Scott Brown (c), Victor Wanyama (Emilio Izaguirre 80); Georgios Samaras; Gary Hooper (Sung-Yong Ki 67), Anthony Stokes,,
SUBS NOT USED: Mohamed Bangura, Patrick McCourt, Lukasz Zaluska, Kelvin Wilson
SCORER: Stokes (18), Wanyama (40), Mulgrew (69)
YELLOW CARD: Ki (81)
WEATHER: Windy 5C
Pars 50/50 Half Time Draw
Winning Number:- 49017. Prize amount is £957.00
NEXT MATCH: (away) Scottish Cup v Inverness Caley Thistle
Saturday 7th January 2012, kick off 3.00pm
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm