CIS Insurance Cup Semi Final
Wednesday 25th January 2006 Easter Road
DUNFERMLINE 1 LIVINGSTON 0
A Darren Young penalty awarded after Greg Strong brought down Mark Burchill was enough to see the Pars through to the Cup Final on Sunday 19th March
The Pars fans filled a fair chunk of the Famous Five Stand
Darren Young`s penalty sent Dunfermline Athletic to their first CIS Insurance Cup final since 1991 at the expense of fellow SPL strugglers Livingston.
Dunfermline made five changes from the side that started on Saturday. Simon Donnelly retained his place, Gary Mason, Mark Burchill and Noel Hunt were all back and Craig Wilson was preferred to Greg Ross. Andy Tod and Lee Makel were out injured. Iain Campbell was out suspended and Bartosz Tarachulski found himself back on the bench where club captain Scott Thomson was also fit enough to take a seat.
Livingston fielded an unchanged side from the one that started against Rangers the previous Saturday as they tried to prevent Dunfermline make their third League Cup Final.
So it was that the SPL`s bottom two sides came to meet in a prestigious Cup Semi Final. This was the match that few seemed to be interested in but would the sides serve up something to worth missing your Burns Supper for? Livingston kicked off up attacking the goal in front of the Pars fans in the Famous Five Stand. If the tie was going to be decided by the decibels from the audience then going by the pre match it would be a Fife win.
The first shot of the game after 90 seconds came from Steve Hislop after Paul Dalglish had been gifted possession from Yannick Zambernardi but the effort was easily blocked. Another 90 seconds later Darren Young received a neat pass from Donnelly and warmed McKenzie`s hands from 25 yards out.
Mark Burchill pops a shot
Darren Young putting away the penalty
There was a promising move with Hunt sending Burchill through into the right side of the Livi box in seventh minute but the inviting ball through the penalty box went unaccepted. Dunfermline were down to ten men as Greg Shields received treatment for a nose bleed that required a strip change as Livingston won the first of three corners. Fortunately Shields was back on to block Livi`s best attempt - a David Mackay on target shot from 15 yards.
Another corner for the Lions in 16th minute was held by Allan McGregor after Young had lofted the ball. Dunfermline had a reply with Hunt heading down for Burchill to burst into the top of the Livi box but David McNamee put in a telling tackle to concede a throw in. Livingston were soon in possession again though and a strong run by Dalglish was terminated with a stinging shot that McGregor did well to first parry and then gather.
The 20th minute almost saw Dunfermline take the lead and but for a deflection Burchill might have found the top left of the net. The ex Celtic striker turned Harald Pinxten on the 18 yard line and produced a fine shot that unluckily resulted in only a corner. Craig Wilson`s corner caused mayhem as it slipped through the six yard box but the Livi keeper was able to drop on it.
A fine lay off from McNamee to Dalglish maintained the end to end play and McGregor was relieved to see the Livi no.9 send his low drive beyond the left goalpost. Just before the first half hour expired a Zambernardi pass sent Burchill up the left wing and his return into the box was destined for Hunt in fine position to convert but Richard Brittain got back to send the ball over his own bar for a corner.
Craig Wilson sent over two corners from the left before the ball was sent in for Hunt whose header was well saved by the blue shirted keeper. Dunfermline piled on the pressure; there were appeals for a penalty as Hunt was pushed over on the edge of the box by Pinxten but the best that came was a Burchill shot deflected for another corner this time on the right.
Nothing came from that and there was a wee fright from a Gabor Vincze throw in when the defence stopped even although referee Dougie McDonald had not blown for hand ball. There were no Fife complaints however over the whistler`s next decision. Yet another strong Burchill run down the left, fixing on to a Hunt header, saw him travel into the penalty box and Greg Strong`s stop on the speeding striker made the penalty decision an easy one. After his success from the spot in the 93rd minute of the Boxing Day match against Rangers there was no stopping Darren YOUNG taking the spot kick. The keeper could not stop the right footed shot and Dunfermline went 1-0 up in 37th minute.
The remainder of the first 45 and the two added minutes saw Dunfermline in command. The West Lothian side did little to endanger the Pars half time lead and had Donnelly been slightly deadlier with his shot it might have been two.
Half time Dunfermline 1 Livingston 0
The opening five minutes of the second half had Livingston pinned back into their own half. Hunt won a free kick deep down the right and then a corner but McKenzie was out to clutch that. After former Par Jason Dair came on for Gabor Vincze another ball from Mason to Hunt won a further corner in 55 minutes. Livi survived and two minutes later won one of their own that McGregor stretched out to remove from the head of Hislop. The Lions` drums grew quieter as a free kick over from Wes Hoolahan was easily cleared by the men in stripes.
Donnelly passed up a good opportunity to break but the Livingston defence won that one. Paul Lambert introduced Robert Snodgrass for Hislop as he tried to inject something into his attack but it was Dunfermline who came closest to adding to their score. Pinxten was yellow carded for taking down Burchill on the edge of the box and Simon Donnelly sent the free kick over the wall but over the crossbar.
Livi were not for giving up and it was Donnelly who was back in his own box to turn a Snodgrass cross behind for a corner in 68th minute. From that Greg Strong headed narrowly wide of the right goalpost. Noel Hunt was replaced by Bartosz Tarachulski as the game served up true cup tie football. Craig Wilson`s shot was blocked by Dair and then his 77th minute cross was fisted away by McKenzie.
With Lambert committing his third substitute the opposition pushed forward. McCunnie`s extended foot prevented a Snodgrass pass reaching Hoolahan and a great opportunity to grab an equaliser. Livi fans were on their feet to appeal for a penalty in 82 minutes when Snodgrass tumbled at Greg Shields feet. Snodgrass did win a free kick on the right corner of the Pars box but fortunately Hoolahan sent the delivery well beyond the far post.
First Aaron Labonte and then Greg Ross came on as Dunfermline saw the minutes disappear. Thoughts began to stray towards Hampden on 19th March. Donnelly sent Tarachulski down the right with 89 minutes showing on the clock but the keeper saved from the big Pole. As the match entered the first of four added minutes McKenzie was out to take a free kick just inside his own box and as Livi tried their damnedest Walker missed a cross at the far post.
Those four added minutes were played amidst one almighty din as both fans spurred their teams on. Dunfermline belted the balls away and wrapped up a well deserved victory to take the club to their first League Cup Final since October 1991.
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