Scottish Cup v Celtic

DUNFERMLINE 2 CELTIC 2 Date: 17/02/01

Rarely can sponsors benefit so immediately from their involvement in sport but after this match the Dunfermline pubs were popular places as hundreds of Pars fans toasted their heroes and relived the events of yet another exciting cup tie at East End Park.

Eight goals in the space of eight days all scored in front of the Norrie McCathie Stand and the prospect of two more matches against Celtic in the space of 5 days. When Jimmy Calderwood predicted on the club mid winter break in Morocco that there were "exciting times ahead" even he could not have believed that he would be sending the East End faithful out punch drunk on the hysteria of two fantastic cup ties.

Calderwood`s heart searching selection -" as hard a decision as I have ever made" meant that Lee Bullen, Stewart Petrie and Jason Dair were put back on the bench to make way for Andy Tod, Ian Ferguson and Gary Mason. Tody started his first match for Dunfermline since 25th March last year with the remit of marking Chris Sutton.

Youssef Rossi, wearing red boots presumably to highlight that it is his feet that takes the out the ball and not the man, stuck to Didier Agathe and Andrius Skerla was left to look after Mr Larsson`s visit to Dunfermline. Celtic kicked off towards the town end but the Pars quickly pressed forward winning an early free kick. Ian Ferguson swung over the ball and Andy Tod was up to head it towards the far side of the net. Douglas collected with ease. His counterpart then took too much ease when play switched to him and was almost caught in possession by Henrik Larsson.

In the third minute Youssef Rossi struck a 25 yard free kick at Rab Douglas. Dunfermline settled and Celtic were kept well away from the Pars goal. Celtic`s first shot at goal in the 10th minute was sent way wide right by Paul Lambert. A Neil Lennon cross was nodded down by Sutton despite Andy Tod`s shadow to Alan Thompson but Marco was good enough.

It was a good tight match and no one was giving much away. Agathe provided a cross from the right that Sutton got through to Larsson and Marco Ruitenbeek was forced to save low down to his left. Mistakes cancelled each other out after 24 minutes when Skerla hand a chance to Celtic but Larsson then gave the ball away to Rossi.

The ball was getting swung around but there were no real chances at either end. Barry Nicholson was busy at both ends; not long after forcing Douglas to clutch one of his crosses he was in the thick of it in the home penalty area belting away a Thompson cross from out left that Chris Sutton almost converted.

Scott Thomson had a similar involvement in the 35th and 36th minute when first almost finding David Moss on the edge of the Celtic box and then failing to beat off Lennon at the other. The Celtic man`s ball towards the centre of the six yard box was well saved by Ruitenbeek at the feet of Larsson. Thomson and Ferguson combined to send Gary Mason deep into the right side of the Celtic penalty area. Unfortunately all that was won was the first corner of the match.

One minute from half time Andy Tod passed to Mason who found Scott Thomson. He turned and ran at Celtic. He travelled along the edge of the penalty box from right to left before unleashing a shot that Douglas turned around for another corner.

The physios had not been involved all half so Willie Young brought the first half to an end on the 45 minutes. Dunfermline had succeeded in keeping Celtic out with a good closing down game that meant that Celtic managed only three efforts at the target in the entire first half.

Barry Nicholson and Scott Thomson took the kick off at the start of the second half as Dunfermline set out to eliminate the favourites.

Justin Skinner fooled Lennon and Larsson and took broke forward deep into the Celtic half. He played the ball to Scott Thomson but so well that it fooled him too. A Valgaeren throw in made an opening for Larsson as Tod and Skerla failed to cut out the ball but the Swede fired over the crossbar.

In the 52nd minute things looked bad as Bobby Petta accepted a Sutton knock down and advanced in on goal. He shrugged off the efforts of Gary Mason to stop him and it was left to Marco Ruitenbeek to save from 18 yards.

Andy Tod had been pushed up for two free kicks and there was a mad scramble back as Celtic retaliated with a break that ended with Larsson wide to the left of the Dunfermline goal. When Ferguson and Rossi collided the ball was fed out for Vega but his shot as he fell backwards was wild.

Larsson and Thompson contrived to let Petta in again and Mason stopped him with the visiting fans trying to persuade Willie Young that a penalty was deserved. Rossi went on a run up the left; his cross was headed by Scott Thomson but deflected over the crossbar for a corner.

The McCathie Stand erupted with strains of "away, away, away" but nothing came of the corner. Next Moss and Thomson played a good move up the left which ended with a Moss square ball that set up Ferguson for a blast over the bar. Lee Bullen was introduced in place of the green booted Dijkhuizen with 63 minutes gone. Next minute Mason had to lean on Petta and yet again a penalty claim was dismissed by Referee Young.

But on 66 minutes a free kick on the left looked to be well under control in the Pars defence until Larsson popped up from behind Vega to net the opener. Dunfermline attacked but were almost caught out by an Agathe break on the right with Rossi stranded upfield and lived even more dangerously when five Celtic players seemed to burst towards Ruitenbeek with scarcely any cover. Fortunately when Lambert crossed the offside flag went up although Petrov`s header came back off the crossbar.

Fifteen minutes from the end an Ian Ferguson free kick almost dropped for Andy Tod. Dair and McGroarty were introduced for Mason and Moss and things were getting heated on the Celtic bench as John Robertson was warned by the referee.

Eight minutes were left when Dunfermline won their third corner of the half. Nicholson took it short to Skinner on the corner of the penalty area. The Englishman skied the ball into the area in front of goal. Jason Dair`s shot was blocked but as the ball broke Andrius SKERLA stuck out a foot and the ball was in the back of the net.

The volume was turned up as both sets of fans tried to inspire their sides to find a winner. Lee Bullen sent a great ball in for Thomson but his shot just bent to the outside of the post. Calderwood went for the victory with Andy Tod put right up front but he got an injury that left him dazed in the centre circle. Then the opening was made by Celtic. Lennon found Sutton on the edge of the six yard box slipped it to LARSSON and he cleverly executed what looked like the proverbial nail in the coffin despite the close atttentions of both Rossi and Skerla.

Two minutes left and Dunfermline kicked off for the third time. So often it is other teams that kill us off in the dying minutes - it has happened before with Celtic. It had happened with Motherwell scoring twice in the last four minutes to win at East End Park. But Motherwell had been paid back in the return to Fir Park last month and now it was Celtic`s turn.

Marco was out patrolling his defence from the half way line and Celtic were caught offside when things could have got worse for Dunfermline. With the last throw of the dice Chris McGroarty went on one of his runs that took him diagonally towards Bullen. The substitute touched it back to NICHOLSON who took the pass and buried the shot from 20 yards out into the bottom left corner of the net.

91 minutes 32 seconds on the stopwatch; there had been no treatment stoppages only a little time for Lennon tying his bootlaces so the final whistle came and the Pars fans were ecstatic. A great performance with Skerla and Nicholson excelling; Scott Thomson did really well and the subs Bullen and McGroarty made significant contributions.

Sammy the Tammy had a really amusing pre match routine building a cardboard fort and holding up a card saying "Welcome to Fortress East End Park". The Celts were made fully aware of the fortification; now we just need to find one that can travel. A replay beckons on Wednesday 28th February at Celtic Park. Martin O`Neill claimed that this date might need to be changed because he has players away on international duty. Nobody let on that Andrius Skerla is wanted in Cyprus that week.

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