SPL v St Johnstone


The much acclaimed trendsetting farmer`s market came to Perth today and amongst the stalls you could buy allsorts of culinary delights. Further west on a park named after a farmer Dunfermline showed the locals how to harvest the points.

Having savoured the taste of success last week against Dundee there was no way that Dunfermline were going to settle for sub-standard fayre.

Dunfermline started the match with the same side who lost to the other Saints on Tuesday and the Johnstone were without captain Jim Weir out suspended. Although former Scottish U21 captain Stewart McCluskey came in instead of Weir the Saintees defence was altered as Darren Dods switched to play on the left side so that the youngster could play on his favoured right.

St Johnstone kicked off towards the Dunfermline support but this was to be a 45 minutes of little consequence. Dunfermline had a better start with Moss`s knock down to Crawford producing a shot that soared over Main`s crossbar. Jason Dair swung over two good balls from the right but nothing came from them.

On 22 minutes Sylla got the better of McGroarty, the Guinean`s cross found Connolly but he was closed down and a corner was the outcome. Two minutes later the Pars best chance of the half came when Stevie Crawford out left crossed for David Moss. The big man scored a beaut of a goal last Saturday in more difficult circumstances but this time the crossbar stopped the ball and there was to be no repeat.

The only other chance of the first half came when Owen Coyle headed a Barry Nicholson cross straight at Alan Main with 39 minutes on the clock.

Half time: St Johnstone 0 Dunfermline 0

Dunfermline approached the second half with greater verve. Immediately forcing their first corner of the game. Chris McGroarty and Barry Nicholson featured as the Pars drove forward with David Moss heading over a McGroarty cross all within the first five minutes. Scott Thomson was blatantly obstructed by Dasovic at the edge of the Saint`s penalty box but Referee Kenny Clark chose to ignore it.

On 52 minutes David Moss`s head provided Owen Coyle with a chance from 18 yards but his shot landed on top rather than in, the net. St Johnstone woke up a bit with this and a minute later produced their very first shot of the match: Momo Sylla was way off target but the home fans were surprisingly appreciative of this progressive gesture.

On the hour Dunfermline seemed to click with Jason Dair being first to shoot on goal and then Stevie Crawford rounding Darren Dods to home straight on goal. It was good to see the striker regain some of last season`s positivety but his shot was well blocked by Alan Main. Shame since Owen Coyle was free to his right, but Craw probably chose the better option. On 63 minutes Owen Coyle`s overhead kick fell for Nicholson but his shot hit off the post.

David Moss was in the thick of the action which remained in the home penalty area. When Steven Hampshire crossed from the left however poor old Mossie was crowded out. Then with 67 minutes gone, the ex Falkirk man had the ball in the net as a Crawford pass from the centre circle out right to Ferguson put the captain in on the keeper but Fergie chose to lay the ball off to his left to Moss and the Assistant Referee`s flag went up for offside. From the Press Box I considered this to be the correct decision but it was not popular with the visiting support.

At this stage you could be searching your programmes to find out the names of the side officials. For once it was revealed one of the men in black was a Mason, Mr D!

But Saintees heeded not the warning when three minutes later a Nicholson corner on the right was cleared as far as Jason DAIR who drove a low shot into the far corner of the net. This was a deserved goal resulting from considerable pressure. It was a goal that you just felt was coming and for once in the Pars cause it did.

Gary Bollan tried a low drive past Ruitenbeek`s right hand post but it was the Dutchman who instigated goal number two. A long throw to the right flank found Dair, he passed inside to Hampshire and he in turn switched the ball out right again to Nicholson who had been calling for the ball. For those home supporters who did not travel, the goal came from a similar move that NICHOLSON rehearsed near the end of the home match v Dundee. His 30 yard chip seemed to take for ever to curl into the net but oh what joy it brought. The goalscorer and fellow revellers were chased around the net by Kenny Clark but for the first time this SPL season Dunfermline had scored more than one goal in a match!

St Johnstone tried in vain to get at least one back with Connolly finding the best effort easily saved by Marco Ruitenbeek. Steven Hampshire almost got in for a third from a high Ferguson ball but it all ended with Dunfermline comfortably in control.

The home support were enticed along with the chance to win a car for attending four home matches. Although they outnumbered the Pars fans by 5:1 at the end there was probably as many Pars people in the ground as Saintees. It is a nice feeling to see the car park emptying long before the end, maybe they`d be in time for the sell out bargains from that market.

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