Pre Season Friendly v NEC Nijmegen

Fixture: Pre Season Friendly
Attendance: 7000, Kick Off: 16:00
Referee: RHJ Temmink, Weather: Sunny 24C

Special guests for the NEC Nijmegen Open Day were former boss Jimmy Calderwood and his Dunfermline team. The pre-match entertainment attracted 12,500 people to the stalls and attractions set up around the perimeter of the ground to create a party atmosphere.

Jimmy Calderwood was introduced and interviewed for the fans two and a half hours before the kick off. Former player for both sides, Jack de Gier was paraded for the NEC fans for it to be revealed that he was joining NEC on a commercial and coaching role with immediate effect.

Calderwood and de Gier pressed the trigger to release ticker tape and a bank of black, green and red balloons that rose to unveil the current EC squad behind it. Everything was going sweetly for NEC until a Stevie Crawford goal in the 15th minute put the Pars ahead.

This was a day when the Pars bi-lingual boss seemed to be speaking to the whole World but it was also the day that his players did the talking on the park. The Sunday afternoon friendly was a very accomplished outing against a team waiting to hear who their opponents will be in the UEFA Cup, a tournament they qualified for virtue of finishing fifth in the Dutch Premier League.

Team selection was eagerly awaited as it was widely anticipated that this one would probably give an indication to what the manager felt was his best starting line up. David Grondin was handed the left midfield role and Derek Young started behind the front two. Gary Mason was in his usual defensive midfield role as Dunfermline lined up 3:1:3:1:2. Only eyebrow raiser was the inclusion of the "triallist" Andy Tod on the left of the back three.

NEC kicked off playing with their backs to the tv screen which was broadcasting the pictures to the stadium. An early Barry Nicholson free kick was headed into the keeper by Tod and at the other end the first corner of the match was headed away by Craig Brewster.

After eleven minutes Grondin and Mason played the ball down the left side with some good interchanges eventually including Crawford before Craw overstruck the cross over the six yard box. Next minute Derek Young shot in the first Pars attempt of the afternoon and from 25 yards out came extremely close to slipping the ball inside the left goalpost.

The goal was not long on coming however. Brewster sent a good ball out to Grondin on the left wing and the Frenchman’s cross looped across the box to find CRAWFORD on the six yard line who had a relatively easy task to sidefoot the ball into the net.

The Pars then looked as they might run amok. The Young brothers fed Crawford the ball but he just ran over the ball leaving to Brewster to shoot. Gentenaar appeared to be caught out by the strike forces trickery and let the ball spin under him then dived back on to it before the ball could cross the line.

Schuurman and de Nooijer looked like they might have cracker the Pars defence in the 22nd minute when Hersi was in to the right of goal but the was put behind for a corner which Tod dealt with easily. With the Pars pushing forward again Brewster touched back a Grondin pass for Darren Young to shoot but straight at the keeper.

Scott Wilson nicked the ball of the toe of Wisgerhof to concede another corner in preventing a shot. When Schuurman swung over the corner Ax produced a shot that went wide to the right of the goal.

The shoulder charge on Stevie Crawford in the 32nd minute by Rob Wielaert, the NEC captain, deep into the left hand side of the penalty box might have earned a penalty in Scotland but there was nothing other than a goal kick to be earned in Nigmegen. The next Dunfermline pressure came when Andy Tod won possession on the half way line and surprised his opponents by heading straight for goal. When the defence decided to close him down, he slipped the ball left for Crawford whose ball in was to the penalty spot where no-one was waiting, and had he chosen the far post Nicholson would have been sure to have made it 2-0.

The first half finished as it had started, with Tod heading down a Nicholson free kick which the keeper intercepted before Brewster could arrive.

NEC made three half time substitutions and the new strike force of Demouge and Tumba made an immediate difference. The Pars survived a 48th minute cross from Wisgerhof which evaded both Hersi and Skerla. Almost right away Schuurman and Tumba manufactured another chance for Hersi but Gary Mason reacted quickly to shut him out and concede a corner.

When Tod fouled Tumba, Zonneveld fired in a free kick but Nicholson charged it down. There was some respite when Crawford took the ball down the left wing and launched it over in the direction of Nicholson at the far post. Unfortunately his challenge for the ball took out the defender and the referee’s whistle went against him. Two minutes later Derek Young provided a cross which Brewster sent into Gentenaar’s hands.

NEC then had a period where they strung several series of good passing movements together. Grondin was forced to head behind for a corner from which Tumba also headed over the top. Next, in the 57th minute the home support raised their biggest noise of the afternoon, Schuurman and Zonneveld combined to let Hersi penetrate the Pars defence, for once getting away from Gary Mason, but the wee No.7 shot wide left to the great disappointment of the home fans. Within a minute, Hersi again had a great chance meeting Zico Tumba’s cross from the left but hitting it into the side netting on the right.

Lee Bullen came on for Derek Young in the 68th minute and Dunfermline got back into the game as Lee became a target for long balls out of defence. The opposition’s remaining chances were firstly easily plucked out of the air by Derek Stillie, then a Simr shot was charged down by Wilson and Mason and Tod headed clear a Schuurman corner.

This was a difficult match for Dunfermline against strong opponents, but they played with composure and patience. Crawford took the goal well and Gary Mason would surely have picked up the Man of the Match award, had there been one for a gritty display which truly frustrated his Dutch opponents.

Now it is on to face FC Utrecht on Tuesday. Jimmy Calderwood wants his team to do well in Holland and next time it is Marco Ruitenbeek who is keenest for Dunfermline to put on another good showing.

Pars fans enjoying the Open Day in Nijmegen - and not a beer in sight!

Dunfermline: Stillie; Skerla, Wilson, Tod; Nicholson, Darren Young, Mason, Grondin; Derek Young (Bullen 68); Brewster (Dair 78), Crawford
Dunfermline Subs: Dempsey, Fotheringham, McGroarty, McLeish, SY Thomson
Dunfermline Goal Scorers: Crawford (15)

NEC Nijmegen: Gentenaar; Wisgerhof (van Rijswijk 78), Wielaert, Ebbinge, Leiwakabessy; Schuurman, Govedarica (Simr HT), Hertsi (De Freitas 78), Zonnefeld; Ax (Demouge HT), de Nooijer (Tumba HT)

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