CIS Insurance Cup: RANGERS 1 DUNFERMLINE 0: 12/10/99
FIGHTING FIFERS FAIL TO FIND THE BEARS NET
For a neutral the prospect of the First Division leaders taking on the Premier League leaders after a quarter of the season would conjure up some dreams of a potential upset as the best side in Scotland might underestimate their opponents. Given the way the Pars have struggled to gain the points that have taken them to the top slot the 300 or so travelling fans had in reality little optimism. The mood outside Ibrox was unusually subdued before the match and the majority of thoughts were apparently on next week’s Champion League match with PSV Eindhoven.
Rangers started without Mols; no Barry Ferguson, Neil McCann or Van Bronkhurst. Injuries meant that they had 4th choice goalkeeper, Mark Brown, in goals. Pars fans hoped that he might be brown mark by the end of the night. Derek McInnes made the team though not the programme since the “Ready” only lists the first 26 Rangers squad players. Dunfermline were without Moss and Skinner (both cup tied). Andy Tod hadn’t recovered from injury so John Potter continued at no.4. Scott Thomson was preferred to Cilla for the surprise, surprise right back role and vacancies in midfield meant that David Graham and Hamish French were in the starting line up.
A cool dry October evening in Glasgow was ideal for football. Owen Coyle led Dunfermline out and Ian Westwater defended the goal in front of the Broomloan Stand. The Pars went at Rangers from the kick off despite the fact that some fans remarked at every minute that went by without Rangers scoring. Jamie Dolan forced the first corner of the game when his 5th minute shot was not held by Brown.
Two minutes later Ian Westwater had a great save from Andrei Kanchelskis as the Ibrox men made a hasty break forward. Quarter of an hour gone and Andy Smith got an early ball out to Stewart Petrie. Petrie’s cross found David Graham to the right of the goal. His header was missed by everyone including its target Owen Coyle at the far post. Hamish produced an oooh from the fairly silent crowd as his 17th minute chance went wide.
Dunfermline were competing and although lacking the Rangers skills and pace were providing more than respectable opponents for Rangers. Alas disaster then struck in the 25th minute of the match. The Dunfermline defence had pushed well up to maintain an offside trap and as a through ball was collected by Wallace Brian Reid stopped waiting for the flag. No flag was raised and the Rangers no.10 had no challengers and no problem in rounding Westwater to open the scoring. Despite strong appeals from both Reid and Westie referee Mike McCurry was not going to change his opinion.
Rangers looked dangerous on the break as ever but Westwater was handling everything well. David Graham had an effort but Brown too looked after that. One down at half time meant that the game was alive for the second 45, although Rangers almost scored from the kick off when a long Amoruso pass was just about collected by Johansson.
Twelve minutes in the second half and Andy Smith battled away down the left allowing Jason Dair to put over a promising cross which the unfortunate Coyle skied. The game then really came to life. First, in the 59th minute, Dair shot for the keeper to divert to Hamish French but he only found the keeper when the net was a distinct possibility. Within the same minute Kanchelskis pulled another great save from Westwater and then Andy Smith was injured in a crude tackle from McInnes which earned him a yellow card.
60 minutes on the clock and a Petrie cross finds Graham’s head but only a corner is the reward. A minute later Jason Dair crossed and Graham put it past the keeper’s right hand post. Coyle and McInnes then had a tussle over the ball, Coyle got a yellow card and the Ger was lucky to stay on the park.
This really had the Pars players and fans fired up with a belief that an equaliser was possible. Advocaat sensing a change necessary introduced Michael Mols as their 64th minute sub for Johansson. Mols’ presence pegged Dunfermline down again and it was ten more minutes before Dair next tested Brown.
Dunfermline brought on first Eddie May and then Chris McGroarty. These substitutions upset the fluency that the Pars had found in their game. Scott Thomson who was having a great game at right back was pushed into midfield as David Graham went up front and Andy Smith was withdrawn. McGroarty came on for a tired Jamie Dolan but none of these moves were enough to trouble the electronic scoreboard. An 89th minute shot from Thomson was the nearest we came.
Rangers continued to push forward through Kanchelskis and playing the ball about within the Dunfermline penalty box. The home support must have seen all this before because half of them must have left by full time. The match programme had not bothered to print details of what would happen in the event of a draw at full time etc. but the Pars failed to convert their many chances. No extra time was required and Dunfermline exit the competition with a handsome cheque no doubt.
After the match the home fans were unquestionably the least satisfied. Dunfermline had put up a creditable performance. All their players had given their best and we lost to what might yet be revealed as a dodgy goal. Young Potter had a good match, Reid bar two lapses, one in each half, had a solid game, French and Smith showed they still had something to give. David Graham eventually got the start and made a fair contribution. Owen Coyle possibly was shown up in that he has what it takes to get the better of First Division defences but could get a return from the Gers back men.
DUNFERMLINE: Westwater; Thomson, Potter, Reid, Dair; Graham, French, Dolan (McGroarty 72), Petrie; Smith (May 69), Coyle.
Sub not used; Ireland
Yellow Cards: Petrie (45), Coyle (63)
Referee M McCurry
DAFC Noticeboard star ratings (only 8 allocated per match):
Ian Westwater 5
Hamish French 2
Scott Thomson 1
Next match v Airdrie (home) Bells First Division Saturday 16th October 1999
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