SPL v Dundee United
DUNFERMLINE 1 DUNDEE UNITED 1 Date: 22/01/05
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League Attendance: 6589
Kick Off: 15:00 Referee: Craig Thomson
Weather: Cool, Dry 3C
With both teams in lowly league positions this match was one of the most important of the season for both parties. Dundee United`s capture of Stevie Crawford from Plymouth Argyle makes their visit all the more interesting.
Craw`s team mate at the English club, Lee Makel returns for the Pars. Noel Hunt gets an SPL start and Aaron Labonte displaced Greg Ross. All that meant Darren Young found himself on the bench beside the returning from injury - Billy Mehmet.
Rarely have Dunfermline commanded a game this season more than they did against Dundee United in this one. A first half goal from Jesper Christiansen two minutes from the interval put Dunfermline in the driving seat. More goals should have followed and a penalty, but the opportunity to put more space between them and their opponents was blown when typically Stevie Crawford got an equaliser in the 73rd minute..
Dundee United kicked off playing towards the Norrie Stand and immediately took the play towards Derek Stillie forcing him into a booted clearance that went straight to Mark Wilson. His cross was headed on target by Crawford and the Pars keeper dropped on to his knees to save with just 23 seconds on the clock.
Paul Ritchie`s challenge on Christiansen gave the Pars their first attempt on goal from a free kick 30 yards out. Lee Makel touched the ball right for Scott Thomson to drive low but McInnes closed the shot down. Hunt kept up the tempo winning a corner for his run up the left. Toddy was on the end of Dempsey`s delivery but the referee decided that the deflection behind off Mair was not worthy of another corner.
The Tannadice went storming back up the park McIntyre`s cross from the right was met six yards out by the head of Barry Robson and the ball landed just beyond the left goalpost. United were soon pressing again with the ball being headed across the front of the Dunfermline penalty area before falling kindly for Crawford who produced a shot from a spinning turn that went wide of the left post again.
Continuing the end to end play Christiansen was in possession deep on the right to pick out Gary Mason on the edge of the box. His diagonal shot looked in until it came back off the inside of the left post and no one was there to turn it in for the Pars. On the 11th minute Christiansen had an effort blocked but nothing came from the resulting corner.
|Mason`s ball in from the right brought Tony Bullock out to grab the ball out of the air but when he dropped it he had time to recover before the Pars could cash in on the mistake. Seconds later Aaron Labonte drove up the right and sent inside a nice ball for Nicholson who released a fierce shot on the run but narrowly wide of the right post.|
In the 18th minute it was Makel who next provided Nicholson with another shooting opportunity but the ball was deflected over the bar by central defender Mair. At the other end Stillie was not given any chance of a breather with Robson shooting in another shot that required good handling.
The next Dunfermline corner this time from the right found the head of Andrius Skerla but the United defence blasted the ball away. The visitors won a corner from a Wilson cross in from the right as Robson again threatened but it was Mark Kerr who was next to test Stillie with a shot from distance that the blue shirted keeper fisted away.
Noel Hunt (left) and Aaron Labonte (right) take the game to United
Ten minutes from the interval Scott Thomson carved his way up the left with a fine individual run to send in a dangerous ball that broke to Noel Hunt. Hunt drove forward and went down only to earn himself a yellow card for going down too easily. Fired up Noel was immediately involved again and shot in a great shot from 20 yards but not good enough to beat the keeper who conceded yet another corner. Noel was under the Nicholson delivery from the north east corner but again the ball was sent behind for the Pars sixth corner of the game.
Dempsey`s 38th minute shot was held by Bullock after a fine build up involving Makel, Labonte and Christiansen who held the ball up and teed it up for the Irish midfielder. Hunt kept the pressure up causing bullock to have to make a save when the Waterford lad got his head to another Pars corner. Tod also came close at another corner Lee Mair this time preventing the ball`s progress.
Noel and Tony Bullock look up to see Jesper Christiansen ready to strike
All this pressure eventually paid off when Jesper CHRISTIANSEN rattled the ball into the roof of the United net in the 43rd minute. It came when Gary Dempsey was allowed to send the ball from the right byeline straight into the heart of the goalmouth. Hunt rose to divert the chance but the keeper stopped it only for the Dane to step in and elated the Pars fans.
Celebration for Jesper`s first goal since February last year
Crawford for United and Thomson for the Pars had further cracks at goal before what had been a very lively half came to a close.
Things started the same way in the second half with Hunt racing down the left and sending over an inviting ball that flew through the United six yard box after just 28 seconds. The sparkling Hunt had a go himself after a neat interchange with Barry Nicholson on the edge of the box.
Another period of Pars domination where Thomson, Dempsey and Mason saw a lot of the ball culminated in a Makel drive that Bullock held diving down to his right. The home support were all on their feet in the 58th minute when Robson handled the ball in the penalty box but that wasn`t a penalty! The decibels were on high and Dempsey almost boosted that when he drove into Bullock on the hour.
Lee Makel in the thick of the action
Dunfermline were fairly squeezing the Tangerines as Scott Thomson`s header from a Nicholson corner was cleared off the line by Kerr then Gary Mason sent the next corner wide to the right. Another well constructed move should have brought the second Pars goal at the midway point in the second half. Christiansen from the right supplied Makel on the top of the box. He sent the ball left for Hunt to dive in with a header that must have been easier placed in the net rather that sending it narrowly wide as he did.
With only a one goal lead the Pars were vulnerable and in the 73rd minute Stevie CRAWFORD punished them for not making more of their chances. Substitute James Grady swung in a ball from the right to Robson at the far side of the six yard box. The United man rose above Labonte to head across the goalmouth for the former Pars striker to nod in.
Dundee United caused more problems for Stillie within a minute and it was just as well that Crawford sliced his shot after the keeper had failed to cut out Grady`s cross. The Cup tie style atmosphere continued with Makel`s free kick spinning invitingly forward but McCracken booted clear. Dunfermline had more, but not all of the remaining chances. Hunt and the Skerla headed over the top; Dempsey received from Mehmet to fire in a shot that broke for a corner off Jim McIntyre.
Billy Mehmet back in competitve action for the first time since Ne`erday v Dundee
United caused the Pars hearts to stop with possession in the Pars box and Kerr getting in a shot that Stillie had to clear with his feet to keep Robson out. Andy Tod did well pinching the ball away from Craw but he failed to be the hero with the final attempt from a corner kick deep into stoppage time.
The win should have been secured before United got back into the match. Ian McCall admitted that his side barely deserved the point but was very pleased to take it. It was a very entertaining game where the fans certainly got value for money but the Athletic supporters were the ones most disappointed by the scoreline.
Looks like Craw is applauding Pars fans