SFL First Division: ST MIRREN 0 DUNFERMLINE 2: 04/03/00

A great performance and a great result. There was a danger that with the kick off delayed for 15 minutes that the Paisley pandas and guest Sammy oor Tammy might have produced the best entertainment of the day. But what followed from 3.15pm was a memorable game that hopefully will have a major say in the destination of the championship flag. After going two up within the half hour first you wanted this match to finish ASAP, but then as the Pars so competently negated the St Mirren effort there was the feeling that you didn’t want this to finish as the second half was pure celebration.

It was the black and white of the Dunfermline support that was swirling and long before the end the travelling support were rehearsing their victory tributes. The sight of the backs of the Saints fans hastily beating it like rats off a sinking ship was a pleasure to behold.

Jimmy Calderwood made no changes to the line up that started last Saturday at the Shyberry. Hamish French replaced Chris McGroarty on the subs bench. St Mirren brought in Steve McGarry for Barry Lavety and Tommy Turner was suspended following his red card at EEP two weeks ago.

The opening two minutes saw St Mirren right up in the Pars half. Ian Ferguson bundled McGarry off the ball on the edge of the penalty box and the free kick put the visitors under pressure right away. Fortunately Kris Mampaey was in charge of both the free kick and a pot shot from 20 yards. John Potter had a powerful headed clearance before the Pars lit the fire with a third minute strike.

David Moss threaded a ball up the left to Stevie CRAWFORD. The Pars no.9 sold Scott Walker a dummy, rode a challenge and hit the goal with his less favoured left foot. What a goal!

In the 7th minute Steven Hampshire set up Lee Bullen and his shot was parried into space on the edge of the six yard box. Unfortunately St Mirren recovered the situation before a second goal was possible.

Four minutes later Hugh Murray dumped Stevie Crawford and Scott Thomson’s free kick almost put Moss on the scoresheet. The big Englishman had an even better chance in the next minute. Hampshire was flattened for yet another free kick and Stewart Petrie inswinger was headed wide by Moss.

St Mirren tried an up and under after 18 minutes. Mampaey was quickly out as McGarry and Yardley closed in. McGarry handled the ball Maradona style and Mike McCurry seemed to react to Mampaey’s appeal rather than what he saw. The striker was penalised but escaped without a yellow card for deliberate hand ball.

The match was furious and tackles stern but it was John Potter who was first to see yellow for complaining in the 19th minute. There had been numerous opportunities for Saints players tackles to warrant similar cards and Potter’s card seemed unjust in contrast.

Stevie CRAWFORD was on fire and his second goal after only 27 minutes was a scorcher - definitely the Pars goal of the season so far. Having shrugged off the attentions of Scott Walker Stevie struck the ball from 25 yards out. His right footed shot looped over Roy and rattled in off the underside of the crossbar.

Ian Ferguson pulled up holding his leg and following unsuccessful revitalisation from Pip Yeates had to be substituted in the 31st minute. While Dunfermline missed Ferguson’s poise Justin Skinner came on and put in a sterling performance. Andy Tod had several headed clearances as the interval approached and Mendes had a weak shot on target that went straight to the keeper.

St Mirren were finished by half time and the Pars made them look pretty ordinary.

Jason Dair was having a good game but in the 53rd minute Ian Ross left his foot in a tackle that caused Dair to be stretchered off. Hamish French entered the fray as John Potter went to right back and Skinner dropped back.

Ludovic Roy lived dangerously with a pass back and Crawford was unlucky not to dispossess him. St Mirren had a spell of greater possession but totally failed to pose a threat to Mampaey’s shut out. Lavety’s introduction in place of McGarry provided no change and Dunfermline looked the more likely to score. Hamish French had an overhead shot that just cleared the crossbar. Lee Bullen just failed to catch on to a Petrie cross.

After Owen Coyle came on for Petrie he had a glorious chance to make it 3. French took the ball wide right and passed it back to Thomson whose cross Crawford touched into Coyle’s path. The sub’s shot went wide. Moss had the last chance when a Hampshire cross rebounded off a defender but his shot went straight to Roy.

Hard evidence that things are coming together for Jimmy Calderwood’s team. The team played with discipline and there were no failures. It would be nice however if David Moss didn’t play in the energy conservation mode. Scott Thomson yet again played Junior Mendes out of the match and this is possibly the greatest difference between this and the previous match at St Mirren Park.

Mampaey played with confidence and was rarely troubled. Things were certainly going our way in the one incidence where having missed a cross he immediately clutched the ball as it bounced into his hands off Yardley’s back.

So 55 points, one ahead of St Mirren and level on goal difference.
The bookies would be wise to shorten Dunfermline’s championship odds on this Pars performance and St Mirren’s ineptitude.

DUNFERMLINE: Mampaey; Dair (French 53), Tod, Potter, Thomson; Hampshire, Ferguson (Skinner 33), Moss, Petrie (Coyle 84); Crawford, Bullen.
Scorers: Crawford (3, 27)
Yellow Cards: Potter (19)
ST MIRREN: Roy, Nicholson (Baltacha 80), Bowman, Rudden, B McLaughlin, Walker, Murray, Ross, McGarry (Lavety 74), Mendes, Yardley.
Sub not used: J McLaughlin
Yellow Cards: Walker (33), Yardley (39), Ross (53).
Referee M McCurry
Attendance 6938
League Position TOP (2 points ahead of St Mirren who have a game in hand v Clydebank which will be played on Saturday 11th March)
Strip: Yellow away but with black shorts
Conditions: bright, still and cold

Next match v Raith Rovers (home) Saturday 18th March 2000

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