UEFA Cup v FH Hafnarfjordur


Fixture: UEFA Cup

Attendance: 2514 Kick Off: 20:00

Referee: Jouni Hyytia (Finland), Weather: Warm 22C

The Pars European dream has been a bit of a nightmare for travel and only a quarter of the way into this match the dream looked truly shattered. Everything in Iceland is spectacular and it looked like it would need one very special phenomena greater than any of the daily 180 seismic movements on the island for the Scottish guests to leave with anything positive from this tie. It took the Pars till the second half to waken up to the reality of European football. A 73rd minute goal from Craig Brewster and then a vital second away goal from Andrius Skerla rescued the tie and put the Pars in the driving seat for the visit to Perth in two weeks time.

Davie Hay went with the same starting eleven as he kicked the SPL season off with on Saturday against Dundee United and immediately looked capable of overcoming FH Hafnarfjordfur. The early optimism which had the fans in full voice was soon to be dampened. Before kick off the very vocal and jubilant travelling support found it hard to compete with the Icelandic sound system and then their three man band and so it continued on the park after the early Dunfermline pressure which had won the first corner of the match.

Gary Dempsey`s 25 yards effort in the 10th minute well wide to the right of target was all the threat the Scots could muster before the Icelanders seized the initiative. Then six minutes later Garðarsson`s ball up the right allowed Atil Bjornasson to take the game to the Pars. His shot went over the crossbar but the visitors failed to comprehend that early warning systems are an industry in Iceland.

Toddy was on the end of a Hunt delivery but his looping header went safely to keeper Daoi Larusson before disaster struck in the 19th minute. Borgvardt chipped a neat ball over Greg Shields out on the home left and Halifredsson ran on to cut back a good ball to Sverrir GARDARSSON who sent the ball smack into the centre of the net.

As if that wasn`t bad enough the islanders doubled their lead within three minutes. Guomundur Sævarsson sprinted up the right wing and advancing into the penalty area fired a good shot at goal which Derek Stillie to block but the ball broke to Allan BORGVARDT who slotted home from six yards.

The home side certainly had their tails up and looked like breaking with every move. Borgvardt threaded through a dangerous ball to Baldur Bett but fortunately his square pass into the box was too strong. Bjornsson drew Derek Stillie to the far side of his penalty area in the next minute, the keeper lost out and the chip at goal went tantalising through the six yard box without any takers.

Dunfermline were really desperately short of ideas and the Icelandic midfield playing with two men behind three were in full control and even Freyr Bjarnason, the centre back had sorties deeply into the Pars half. Greg Shields was having a torrid time trying to keep tabs on Emil Hallfredsson who in the 37th minute shook of the Dunfermline right back but fired his shot well wide to the left of target.

The travelling support by this time had turned their mood and were venting their disgust at what they felt was a great lack of fight from the Fifers. The Icelandic Police force moved down to form a barrier between them and the Manager sat in the stand, but they failed to prevent the abuse reaching the Directors box.

Dunfermline`s only response for the rest of the half came 50 seconds from the interval when Noel Hunt got passed Tommy Neilson and Bjarnasson on the right flank to centre a useful ball towards the head of his co-striker, Andy Tod. The big man`s header tested the keeper but the score remained the same and that was Toddy`s last part in the game as Davie Hay decided to introduce Craig Brewster up front.

Darren Young also came on at half time to replace Dempsey. From the restart their was a glimmer of hope that possibly the Scots could rescue something from the tie. Hunt made ground up the left and sent a useful ball into the penalty box where Brewster tried to get on the end of it but it was left for Barry Nicholson to get in the shot which the keeper saved.

Like the first half the early pressure came to nothing and again the home side had their chances. Saevarsson played a good one-two off Bjornsson but the defence blocked his effort and Hallfreðsson whacked his shot from the rebound well wide. Next minute, however, Guðjónsson picked out the Hafnarfjordur substitute Jon Porgrimur Stefansson and he raced away from Richie Byrne to rocket his shot against the left post and yet again Hallfredsson put the second attempt wide.

In the 59th minute Hunt`s determination allowed him to make ground up the left and into the penalty box where he fed Mason the ball for a shot at goal. The keeper spilled the ball and with Brewster lunging in, Larusson managed to fall on top of the ball to smother the threat. Another six minutes slipped away before Brewster had a looping shot that landed on the roof of the net.

The pessimists in the Pars support were beginning to doubt their convictions as Mason fired a shot over the crossbar from 15 yards midway through the second half. Then Dunfermline`s European lifeline got the boost it really required. In the 73rd minute Greg Shields found a remarkable amount of room down the right wing and time to get in a great cross which Craig BREWSTER rose to head into the far right of the Hafnarfjordur goal.

The left goalpost saved the Pars from going back into a two goal deficit just three minutes later when Stefansson headed Hallfreðsson`s corner from the right onto the woodwork. Saevarsson had a shot blocked by Scott Wilson before Hunt, ever vigilant, dispossessed Guðjónsson midway inside his own half to prod the ball right for Mason. Gary was flattened as he passed to Brewster and he looked to have a good chance but the keeper held the cross.

In the 87th minute, No.5 Freyr Bjarnasson had a lapse of concentration putting Brewster`s poke through out for a corner on the left. Barry Nicholson swung over corner, Andrius Skerla rose to head goalwards. The ball came back to Brewster and SKERLA was on hand to stick the ball away and send the team and fans into joyous celebration.

The home side tried hard to get a goal back and there was some desperate defending and further work for Stillie before the final whistle sounded.

The final whistle 22 seconds into the 93rd minute was greeted like a victory by the black and white army. It took Dunfermline some time to find the way in Europe after 34 years but now lets hope they can take it on in two weeks time.

This Icelandic team cannot be written off - they are not top of their league for nothing. They are a very fit and
skilful side very capable of hitting on the break. They have some very direct players and although the score from the first tie would indicate that it stands advantage to Dunfermline this tie is not nearly settled yet.

Good Night from Reykavik


DUNFERMLINE: Derek Stillie; Greg Shields, Andrius Skerla, Scott Wilson, Richie Byrne; Barry Nicholson, Scott Thomson (Simon Donnelly 71), Gary Mason, Gary Dempsey (Darren Young HT); Noel Hunt, Andy Tod (Craig Brewster HT).
SUBS NOT USED: Aaron Labonte, Billy Mehmet, Jamie Langfield (GK)
STRIP: Away Red
SCORERS: Brewster (73), Skerla (88)
YELLOW CARDS: Darren Young (65), Shields (68), Brewster (83)

FH HAFNARFJORDUR: Dahti Lárusson; Gudmundur Sævarsson, Sverrir Gardarsson, Tommy Nielson, Freyr Bjarnason, Alti Vidar Björnsson, Jonas Gardarsson (Simon Karkov 83), Baldur Bett (David Thor Vildarsson 73), Allan Borgvardt (Jon Stefansson HT), Heimir Guðjónsson, Emil Hallfreðsson
SUBS NOT USED: Valthor Hilmar Halldorsson, Sigmundur Astthorsson, Armani Smari Björnsson, Asgeir Asgeirsson,
SCORERS: J Garðarsson (19), Borgvardt (22)

REFEREE: Jouni Hyytia

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