SPL v Motherwell


Referee John Underhill`s third penalty decision against Dunfermline in two games, the eighth against them this season let Motherwell in to change the destination of the three points. One up with five minutes to go the Pars slumped to defeat when Derek Townsley scored 5 minutes from time and Ged Brannan scored from the spot with 90 minutes on the clock.

Billy Davies must have been like Al Gore ready to concede defeat when Townsley stepped in to alter delay the count and Underhill`s decision left no legal challenge; Calderwood admitting later "from where I was I thought it was a penalty".

Ian Ferguson was a late omission from the Dunfermline team through injury and the visitors were unexpectedly without Kemble and Spencer. Dunfermline kicked off towards the Norrie McCathie Stand but it was all of six minutes before the supporters in that stand got a close-up of the ball. The first corner of the match came when a Dair cross from the right was put out behind as Stevie Crawford closed in.

Three minutes later a long Ruitenbeek clearance was flicked on by David Moss to Owen Coyle who in the chase into the penalty box for the ball came second to keeper Stevie Woods. Eleven minutes into the match Scott Thomson made a run deep down the left and crossed a perfect ball for David MOSS who rose above the opposition defence to head across the goal into the net.

Jason Dair had a shot wide from an Owen Coyle knock down but slowly Motherwell were allowed back into the game. Marco Ruitenbeek was stretched in the 18th minute to turn a Greg Strong header around his right hand post and then was also tested with a McMillan attempt on goal.

Barry Nicholson was playing at right back apparently with responsibility for looking after the young Irishman Elliott. But with 25 minutes gone Elliott got around Nic and Goodman met the cross with a flicked deflection across the face of the goals. Ruitenbeek was deceived and could only watch as the ball trundled out for a bye kick.

Dunfermline then had two flowing movements forward. In the first Crawford swung the ball out right to Dair whose cross was just too much for Mossy to get on to but he was also deemed to be offside, then Andrius Skerla did really well to win control inside the centre spot and sent the ball out left for Crawford. Having made it into the penalty area, the striker`s final control let him down as he tried to shoot and nothing came of it.

Before the interval arrived Chris McGroarty shot wide and Ged Brannan had a free kick well saved by Ruitenbeek - Corrigan ending up shooting wide of the target.


The first 15 minutes of the second half saw Motherwell retain a lot of possession but fortunately with little associated threat. Chris McGroarty was the first to drive up field for the Pars and his lay back to David Moss was hit on target from 35 yards but Woods saved.

Skerla headed a corner over the crossbar with 60 minutes gone; Crawford had a cross well cut out by Woods and a Scott Thomson free kick found Moss in the box but Crawford`s subsequent chance was wide of the left post.

Substitute Junior Mendes produced a characteristic little jink to get the ball inside to Moss who in turn put the ball into the path of Dair but Woods again was alert to the danger and killed off yet another chance. There were other chances for the Fifers to kill the match off as Thomson burst through into the penalty box but Moss couldn`t turn the ball into the net and then Barry Nicholson had a drive held by Woods.

Still alive, Motherwell came close when somehow Marco kept the ball out of the net when Don Goodman headed down a corner from the left. Then with five minutes remaining Ruitenbeek came way out in his box diving low to try to cut out a cross. Nicholas beat him to the ball and it fell to Townsley who coolly slotted it into the unguarded net.

Dunfermline responded with Crawford sending McGroarty off down the left to cross for David Moss. The big Pars man`s forehead connected well but the ball went straight to Woods. With some difficulty the keeper hung on to it and that moment changed the fortunes from the match.

Motherwell then pressed for the winner; Townsley`s cross evaded Ruitenbeek and Elliott. Fourth Official Craig Mackay had signalled two added minutes when Andrius Skerla clashed with Stuart Elliott on the far side of the box.

It is unlikely that a goal would have resulted but with a penalty awarded Marco maintained his 100% failure rate at stopping penalties and the Pars were made to pay dearly for what was a disappointing performance. Ged Brannan fired confidently to Ruitenbeek`s left as he went the other way.

No doubt we missed Ian Ferguson but the doubtful deployment of last Saturday`s star man, Barry Nicholson must be the focus of the post mortem.

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