SPL v Aberdeen
ABERDEEN 2 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 13/11/04
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 10398 Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Eddie Smith Weather: Sunny 6C
With seven first team players out the Pars were always going to be up against it in Aberdeen. The Dons were ahead by one goal at half time through an unfortunate Andy Tod own goal and then just five minutes into the second half the match looked to have put beyond them when Darren Mackie shot the home side into a two goal lead.
Simon Donnelly got a goal back in the 71st minute to herald a valiant attempt to salvage a point. It was fasr from the Pars worst performance of the season; they did compete for long periods but never looked like taking anything from this fixture until Donnelly`s goal. Both sides had opportunities in the last twenty minutes but the scoreline remained unchanged. Even Jimmy Calderwood conceded after the match that the Pars were worthy of a draw.
The Dunfermline team that started at Pittodrie showed only two changes from the one that exited the CIS Insurance Cup on Wednesday against Hearts. Simon Donnelly came in for Derek Young and Billy Mehmet replaced Craig Brewster. In addition to those two, injuries also sidelined the likes of Greg Shields, Andrius Skerla, Darren Young, Gary Dempsey, and Noel Hunt.
Noel Whelan the Dons scorer at East End Park in August started only his second game since then and Scott Morrison came in for the suspended McNaughton as the Pars kicked off towards the Dick Donald Stand. The early action was towards David Preece in the Aberdeen goal with a Barry Nicholson cross being headed away and then a Richie Byrne cross being held by the Dons keeper.
It was the seventh minute before Derek Stillie was called into serious action. After Tosh had played in a through ball for Noel Whelan the close policing of Andy Tod on the Englishman denied the Dons striker a good crack at goal and the yellow shirted stopper had an easy task to hold the weak effort.
Left: Russell Anderson and Zander Diamond half Billy Mehmet, and
Right: Scott Thomson gets above Chris Clark and Richie Byrne awaits the drop out.
Nicholson had two wide shots in the space of five minutes; the first from 25 yards and the second from marginally closer as he met a Butler free kick from the right that had earned Derek Adams a yellow card for his tackle on Aaron Labonte. Whelan should have opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Scott Wilson let him through on the left. As Tod and Wilson tried but failed to halt Whelan`s progress he slipped through to fire in a useful shot that Stillie parried and then watched Whelan`s follow up go wide of his right post.
There was a real scramble in the Dons goalmouth two minutes later. Nicholson sent Labonte down the right and when his cross reached the heart of the Dons box Preece, Diamond and Tosh forced the ball away from Mehmet.
A foul by Anderson on Mehmet right in front of the 332 Dunfermline fans in the South Stand led to a Butler free kick that Scott Wilson headed over the crossbar. Then a Scott Thomson free kick reached Tod on the edge of the box but his head on just would drop for Mehmet to do damage with.
Left: Simon Donnelly watches Thomas Butler`s progress. Right: Richie Byrne tries to find a way around Chris Clark
Aberdeen replied through Steven Tosh who twisted his way through the left side of the Pars defence to drive a shot at Stillie. Next on the half hour the Pars keeper was much more severely tested when Tosh`s cross reached Derek Adams on the left side of the box and the keeper tipped what looked like a certain opener around his left hand post.
Wilson was incensed with Referee Eddie Smith`s decision that gave Aberdeen a free kick out on the right touchline. He was lucky not to receive a warning for his strong protests. Morrison came over from the left to bend over a ball into the top of the six yard box. Diamond challenged as the Pars defenders went up for the ball and Andy TOD was really unlucky to have the ball break off him and passed Stillie to put the Dons ahead.
The Fifers first shot on target followed eight minutes later in the 42nd minute. Donnelly fed the ball left for Byrne and when his overstruck cross was controlled by Labonte on the right he centred the ball to Mehmet whose shot had to be dealt with by Preece. The score remained the same at the break despite a Thomson headed a free kick into the Aberdeen goalmouth and a late corner that Mehmet headed over the bar.
The half time reflections pointed to a fairly good Pars performance. For most of the game Aberdeen possession had been thwarted by good spoiling with everyone getting behind the ball. The late flurry with the likes of Scott Wilson pushing up seemed to indicate that the Pars were not going to surrender easily to Calderwood`s Dons.
Irish midfielder Thomas Butler puts in a brave header
Hopes of a comeback sank quickly in the second half. Just five minutes after the restart a long ball to Whelan on the left wing dropped off Tod into the path of the Aberdeen striker. He travelled from just inside the Pars half to put in a square ball into the Pars penalty box where Derek MACKIE turned his defender and curled his well struck shot into the bottom right of Stillie`s net.
It looked as though Aberdeen might run riot as Stillie drove a clearance onto Andy Tod and fortune favoured the visitors as the ball cleared the crossbar as it rebound backwards. Morrison thumped a shot wide after Diamond had travelled up the right and Barry Nicholson collected a yellow card as things began to look bleak.
With just over half an hour to go Tod was pushed upfront beside Donnelly and Mehmet. Almost immediately Tod was close to redeeming his first half own goal. A Tosh tackle on Donnelly led to a Nicholson free kick that Scott Thomson headed back square to the penalty spot but Tod and Wilson weree just too far ahead to connect with the ball.
The breakthrough that Dunfermline worked for eventually came in the 71st minute. When Nicholson`s shot from a Butler`s ball in from the left was parried by Preece DONNELLY weas on hand to net his second SPL goal for the Pars.
With their tails up it became apparent that DA could really recover a point with Mehmet driving into the sidenetting. But Aberdeen still threatened on the counterattack. Mason conceded a corner in stopping Severin and Stillie punched away that but only as far as Morrison who teed up Foster with a shot that Stillie tipped over the bar.
Six minutes from time Chris Clark hit the right goalpost and Severin shot wide after a breakaway out of defence. When the ball broke off the back of Thomson, Mason launched a good ball deep into the Aberdeen penalty box but Preece managed to save the clipped shot from Donnelly.
In the 90th minute Byrne got a head to only the Pars fourth corner of the game but his deflection square went through the six yard box without connection. A Donnelly header in the second minute of added time slipped wide right and with that the final hope of an equaliser.
A two one defeat at Pittodrie is far from our worst showing there. This Pars side tried hard. They did not give up and rallied to score and give their hosts a harrowing final minutes. The fans who travelled north will confirm that it was eleven determined men who went down to the narrowest margin.
Left: Gary Mason beats off Steven Tosh. Right: Russell Anderson tracks Billy Mehmet
Dunfermline: Stillie; Labonte, Wilson, Thomson, Byrne; Nicholson, Mason, Butler; Donnelly; Tod, Mehmet
Dunfermline Subs: Langfield, Bradley, McKeown, Campbell, Wilson, Scullion, Ross.
Dunfermline Strip: Home White and Black with black socks
Dunfermline Goal Scorers: Donnelly (71)
Dunfermline Yellow Cards: Nicholson (59), Donnelly (67)
Aberdeen: Preece; Clark, Anderson, Diamond, Morrison; Tosh (Foster 75), Heikenen (McGuire 75), Adams, Severin; Mackie, Whelan (Stewart 81)
Aberdeen Subs: Esson, Tiernan, Muirhead, Pasquinelli
Aberdeen Goal Scorers: Tod og (34), Mackie (50)
Aberdeen Yellow Cards: Adams (15), Morrison (67), Diamond (84
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