SPL v Hibernian


Fixture: BOS Premier League

Attendance: 7515, Kick Off: 15:00

Dunfermline in third faced a Hibs side only two points behind them in the SPL. Hibs arrived at East End in fifth place without the suspended Grant Brebner and with Francisco Luña injured

Suspension affected Dunfermline as well with Sean Kilgannon sitting it out after his red rage at Ibrox last Saturday. The only change in the starting line up from the Ibrox match was Scott Walker for the injured Gus McPherson.

Hibs got into the game right away and it took the Pars some time to settle. Their first danger was created in the 6th minute after Bullen`s ball from the right picked out Gary Dempsey on the 18 yard line but the young Irishman`s chest down was not good enough to maintain control and chance was gone.

Brewster and Dempsey exchanged neat passes that attempt to breach the Hibs defence but Smith blocked the first and then the back heeler from Craig to Gary was intercepted. The Pars front two at this point were being were continually frustrated by Fenwick and Smith.

The first corner of the game went to the Hibees in the 11th minute but it was Dunfermline who benefited with Crawford breaking out of defence and supplying Dempsey in the centre circle. His pass wide for Walker on the left was not accurate and the promising move broke down with the ball going out of play for a throw in.

Two minutes later Andrius Skerla had to muster all his international class to rob McManus on the edge of the box after Paatelainen had threaded through a ball that looked like providing the opener. Next Craig Brewster won a free kick 30 yards out after Zambardini was too eager in the tackle. Jason Dair swung over a cross that Scott Walker went sprawling towards, narrowly missing with his header.

Derek Stillie in the Dunfermline goal was not realy being tested but he was fast out to the rescue after O`Neil had sprung the Pars defence for McManus to chase on.

Back at the other end Crawford was giving the Hibs supporters in the stand in front of him a worrying time. When Brewster sent him scurrying across the penalty box the Scotland striker could have been expected to have done better with the chip back.

Hibs were again penalised for Fenwick`s attention on Brewster and from the Nicholson free kick the ball found Lee Bullen on the right side of the Hibs penalty box. Lee sent an inviting ball across the face of goal and somehow or other Craig Brewster managed to fail to turn in an easy opportunity.

Dunfermline were getting slightly more confident; enjoying a spell of possession and connecting passes. Scott Wilson was given time to select an option and pick out his good friend Nicholson. His cross was cut out by the chest of Alan Orman but the Pars fans were appealing for a penalty.

Crawford and Bullen looked like they were going to penetrate the opposition`s defence but when Dair swung over the product of their work the ball flew out on the far side for a throw in.

Dunfermline`s first corner came seven minutes from the interval when Bullen forced Fenwick to turn the ball out. Barry Nicholson took the corner unaware that a missile had come out of the crowd. The Referee and his Assistant on that side later stopped play to discuss the incident.

A Bullen throw in midway inside the Hibs half was hoofed high into the danger zone by Dempsey but Colgan came for it. The keeper dropped the ball but Barry Nicholson was unaware of the faux pas and the scoreline remained blank.

Just on half time 25 yards out, Dair found himself with time to weigh up the passes available. He chose Dempsey but the Pars no.18 could only shoot low into the hands of Nick Colgan.

Half Time 0-0

Despite the above the first half was not the most exciting 45 minutes of the season. The second half was only 17 seconds old when Hibs captain John O`Neil drove in a dangerous shot which narrowly missed the target to the left.

In the 47th minute O`Neil latched onto a McManus cross but fortunately his 25 yard effort went over the crossbar. The travelling support behind the goal were in full chorus of Glory Glory to the Hibees when Alan Orman made a break down the right wing leaving Scott Walker behind. Scott Thomson blocked the cross but John O`Neil was there to drive in the rebound and again fortune favoured the Pars as his well struck effort narrowly fell to the left of target.

In the 53rd minute Derek Stillie came out challenge McManus on the extreme left of his penalty box. Having missed at the first attempt the keeper was forced into a foul just outside the box. He has to consider himself lucky not to have collected a yellow card. Wiss attacked the free kick but the ball was headed clear.

Dunfermline got into the second half with Craig Brewster making a counter attack and sending Barry Nicholson through the middle. The yellow shirted officials were most unpopular when the offside flag was shown with Nicholson protesting vehemently.

At this stage Scott Walker was replaced by Steven Hampshire. Walker had been successfully deployed against Hibs at Easter Road in the first game of the season when he had kept Derek Townsley quiet and had also scored a goal. Today it was a different game, Townsley was on the bench and Walker found the wingback position not so easy.

With Hampshire`s arrival in the 55th minute Bullen was switched to left wingback allowing the substitute to patrol the right wing.

Three minutes later Jason Dair was penalised for foot up in a challenge with Wiss. The Hibs man really ducked into the challenge but referee Ian Fyfe awarded the free kick inside the centre circle. Paul Fenwick swung the ball deep into the far right of the penalty box where Mixu Paatelainen headed the ball square for Tom McMANUS. Scott Wilson`s head got a fine touch to the ball but it dropped for the bleached blonde striker who escaped from Skerla to slot in with his left foot from 12 yards.

Going behind is nothing new to the Pars and the game came to life with the opening goal. Hibs did have another fright for the Pars when in the 62nd minute McManus received a pass from Wiss on the left side and fired a shot across the goal which fell wide of Stillie`s net.

The first signs of a Dunfermline fightback came with a fine Jason Dair strike from all of 30 yards which only just cleared the cross bar. Dair was also involved a minute later when from the left wing he produced an excellent right footed cross for Brewster. The former Hibee took the ball on the volley from all of 8 yards but this really good chance went over the top as well.

The equaliser took Dunfermline only 8 minutes to hatch. Gary Dempsey sent Jason Dair down the left wing. Jason beat two players as he advanced into the Hibs penalty box and slipped a great ball across the goals avoiding a lunging defender and setting up Stevie CRAWFORD with a simple tap in. The stadium erupted in celebration of Stevie`s 13th goal of the season.

Paatelainen was yellow carded in the 69th minute when he shoved Gary Dempsey to the ground. The home support were urging their team on with chants of Come On Ye Pars belting out of the Norrie McCathie Stand.

There was plenty of goalmouth action now. Orman had a shot blocked before Nicholson picked out Brewster from a free kick to threaten yet again.

John O`Neil swung over a useful cross that Paatelainen headed onto the top of the net. Dair tried a one-two with Dempsey but the ball was just too far and Hibs took the goal kick.

Craig James bothered the defence with a cross that Scott Thomson turned behind for a corner. Again it was Dunfermline who benefited with Stevie Crawford breaking quickly to the other end, but Gary Smith intervened.

It looked as though Dunfermline were through for a winner when Crawford sent an inviting through ball for Hampshire but Colgan was very quick out of his goal to perform the necessary and effective tackle 20 yards out.

With two minutes remaining, Dair was through and close in on the keeper following good work by Crawford, but the offside flag was up and the game was destined to finish at one goal each.

At the end of the day, Dunfermline were probably happier with the draw. Although Derek Stillie had very little to save Hibs did create a number of chances which might have resulted in more goals. Crawford and Brewster really lost their personal battles with their Hibs markers, with both teams playing five men in midfield the passing game that Calderwood`s Dunfermline really enjoy was extremely difficult to achieve. Jason Dair was named the match sponsor`s man of the match and one has to agree that the sponsors called that right.

Dunfermline retain their third spot and keep Hibs two points behind. Hearts play hosts to second placed Rangers on Sunday afternoon but hopefully when Dunfermline take the field for Wednesday nights home match against Dundee United they will still be leading the best of the rest pack behind the Old Firm.

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