SPL v Motherwell
DUNFERMLINE 0 MOTHERWELL 2 Date: 03/03/12
Attendance: 3523, Kick Off: 3:00pm.
Referee: Brian Winter
On a chilly Saturday afternoon Dunfermline, still in search of a first home win of the season, played host to Stuart McCall`s Motherwell. Jordan MacMillan returned and Paddy Boyle found himself on the bench. Andy Kirk and Kyle Hutton were out with chest infections, Paul Burns with a bruised foot, Mark Kerr wasn`t ready to return and of course Kevin Rutkiewicz, Iain Turner, Paul Gallacher, Nick Phinn and Steven Bell are longer term injuries.
The visitors made one change from the team that faced Celtic the previous Saturday - Omar Daley coming in for Keith Lasley.
Dunfermline kicked off through Liam Buchanan and Ryan Thomson and within two minutes, a neat pass from Joe Cardle allowed the former a shot that was held by keeper Darren Randolph. The Fifers won the first corner of the match after four minutes but nearly got caught on the counterattack after Cardle`s ball in from the right was headed clear. It was Omar Daley that raced away but Austin McCann tracked him forcing his final pass to be intercepted by Gary Mason.
Two minutes later Randolph had to be outstretched to his right to halt a net bound shot from 20 yards from Martin Hardie. Play continued to look promising for Jim McIntyre`s team with Davie Graham`s pass into the goalmouth being met by Thomson but his attempt was deflected behind.
Motherwell had two patient build ups, completing numerous passes before Tom Hateley delivered a dangerous ball into the Pars six yard box that Thomson headed away with Henrik Ojamaa waiting for the cross behind him.
McCann`s challenge on Murphy handed Well a 17th minute free kick and the ball got placed into a dangerous area in front of Smith`s goal but Graham arrived to whack the ball away. At the other end Hardie beat Tim Clancy to a long ball from a Pars free kick but the whistle was blown as Cardle threatened to burst into the box.
Another Pars corner in 21 minutes was fisted away by Randolph after Mason had sent the defended ball back towards goal. The ball was pressed about the Motherwell box with Buchanan and Hardie picking out Cardle and then Graham who crashed a powerful shot just wide right from 25 yards.
Andy Dowie sent an Ojamaa cross out for the visitors` first corner in 25 minutes but they created nothing from it. Four minutes later Motherwell should have scored after a strong run by Hateley took the ball from defence to the Pars box. His pass was left by Murphy for Michael Higdon and fortunately he failed to connect well and Chris Smith made what ended up an easy save from close in.
The home fans objected in 32 minutes after Buchanan was caught offside but the decision was clearly correct. Shame because he would have been clean through on Randolph. Dunfermline continued to push with slick passes from Graham via Hardie to Buchanan causing the opposition something to worry about.
A long pass from Keddie was headed down by Hardie on the edge of the box and Thomson got in a shot from 30 yards but Randolph held with ease. There was a blatant push on Buchanan by Hutchinson before they broke down the right and forced a corner. Luckily Hateley`s set piece was cleared.
This was a very re-assuring first half performance from the Pars. They had trouble avoiding the Steelmen`s offside trap but gave as good as they got in attack.
Half time: Dunfermline 0 Motherwell 0
Paul Willis replaced Joe Cardle for the second half while Motherwell also made a substitution - Chris Humphrey taking over Omar Daley`s role but on the right flank. A 50th minute corner raised hope but the Pars almost got badly caught out on the break as Murphy raced away but a posse of defenders chased him into the box and although McCann was nearest it was Keddie behind him that cut out the shot.
Hutchinson collected the second booking of the afternoon as he forced Buchanan off the ball but Willis`s delivery from the free kick, although dangerous, was duly defended. On the hour Buchanan accepted a pass from Willis but his shot was deflected behind for the first of three corner kicks from the right. Willis sent in quality balls; the first two were sent behind after Thomson headed goalwards, the final one to Dowie saw him penalised for climbing.
The crowd roared the Pars on when Buchanan and then MacMillan took play forward but Willis` final ball to the far post was just too big for Hardie. It had all looked so good but in 64 minutes a simple ball into the near post from Ojamaa was touched low by HIGDON and the ball squirmed under Smith to give Motherwell a lead that they barely deserved on their second half showing.
Willis gathered a poor Randolph clearance and burst into the right side of the Motherwell box but Hardie moved to the near post as the young winger sent the ball to where he had seen his colleague when he last looked up. Then Humphries set up a good chance to the right side outside Pars penalty box. He terrorised both Graham and Hardie before getting past them to cut back for an unmarked OJAMAA to smash the ball past the helpless Smith to make it 2-0 to the visitors.
The Estonian could have notched his second just five minutes later after Humphrey made a fast break in from the right but Ojamaa got in front of the ball when it was cut back. Two more Dunfermline corners before Hardie was subbed by Andy Barrowman in 76 minutes.
It was Motherwell who continued to create with Hateley`s free kick from the right winning a corner on the left. Two more followed that before Ojamaa headed wide left. Steven McDougall came on for the final ten minutes with Mason going off.
It was not to be Dunfermline`s day; a push on Barrowman in the box was ignored by the keeper before Murphy flashed a ball at goal that Smith touched away for a goal kick! In 89 minutes Smith again got a touch as Hateley crashed a shot narrowly over the crossbar.
Fisrt Minister Alex Salmond has this week expressed his willingness to assist Dunfermline but not even the greatest political will in the country can do very little for a team that gives away soft goals. The performance was miles better that last Saturday`s but it is results that get you points. That completes 15 home games in the SPL without a win.
DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith; Jordan MacMillan, Andy Dowie, Alex Keddie, Austin McCann (c); David Graham, Gary Mason (Steven McDougall 80), Ryan Thomson, Joe Cardle (Paul Willis HT); Martin Hardie (Andy Barrowman 76), Liam Buchanan.
SUBS NOT USED: Paddy Boyle, Kerr Young, Shaun Byrne, Ryan Goodfellow (GK).
YELLOW CARD: McCann (69)
MOTHERWELL: Darren Randolph; Tom Hateley, Tim Clancy, Shaun Hutchinson (Stephen Craigan 81), Steven Hammell, Steven Jennings, Nicky Law, Omar Daley (Chris Humphrey HT), Jamie Murphy, Michael Higdon, Henrik Ojamaa
SUBS NOT USED: Jonathan Page, Bob McHugh, Stuart Carswell, Ross Forbes, Lee Hollis.
YELLOW CARD: Higdon (39), Hutchinson (54)
SCORER: Higdon (64), Ojamaa (70)
WEATHER: Overcast, cold wind 12C
50/50 Winning number - 64615 was worth £801
NEXT MATCH: (home) SPL v St Mirren
Saturday 24th March 2012, kick off 3.00pm
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm