These two rivals sit in vastly differing league positions. Kilmarnock back in third spot with 42 points and the Pars with half that total in bottom slot. Despite that Dunfermline have lost only three more matches than Kilmarnock and so the fifteenth drawn match of this league season demonstrates just why a win is becoming imperative for Dunfermline.

The two sets of supporters approached the match with contrasting thoughts. Dunfermline fans were eager to see the debut of Owen Coyle and the effect that Andy Smith’s demotion to the bench mighty have. The ladies occupying the Kilmarnock Directors box seemed to have little else on their minds other than to gauge if there was visible evidence that Super Ally had managed to lose some weight during this week.

Stewart Petrie started instead of Jason Dair who had been suffering from a stomach complaint all week, Gerry Britton was preferred to David Graham and new boy Coyle replaced Andy Smith. Andy Tod was captain for the day.

Dunfermline had much the better of the first half with Marc Millar setting up Gerry Britton after six minutes and then another 6 minutes later Owen Coyle firing in a cross from the right that both Britton and Petrie failed to connect up with. Petrie had a drive after 25 minutes and Butler’s only job of the first half was to save a goal bound pass back from Marc Millar midway through the half. Kilmarnock’s only effort was from McCoist three minutes from half time when Gavin Johnson was absent as Super Ally got in a shot driven across the face of the goals.

The second half resumed with the Pars doing all the pressing. Coyle shot over in the 47th minute and then Gerry Britton landed a lob on the roof of the goals.
Next Britton and Thomson combined to give Coyle a shot at goal but his effort went straight at Marshall.

On 66 minutes Coyle provided Britton with a chance but his weak chip was saved by Marshall. Jamie Dolan was dispossed in the Kilmarnock half as Dunfermline increased the pressure and were fortunate to survive a counterattack from McCoist and Mitchell.

Andy Smith was thrown on in place of a tired Gerry Britton and within two minutes he should have scored if he could have got a touch to a Scott Thomson drive that was just wide of Marshall’s left hand post. The Pars fans sitting in the stand behind Marshall raised the volume as they willed Dunfermline to score. Five minutes from time Owen Coyle’s cross found Andy Smith who just couldn’t adjust his shot quick enough to net.

This was a much improved performance from Dunfermline who at no stage played like a team that looked doomed for relegation. Lee Butler was by far the quieter keeper, Durrant was denied time and space in midfield where Dolan worked hard and Dair looked sharp when he came on in the centre.

Scott Thomson was electric and Owen Coyle looks a great buy as his speed and encouragement were important contributions. The ex Motherwell man clearly instructed what he wanted from Britton, Petrie and latterly Smith. Britton responded with even more effort than normal and what a different Andy Smith it was who played out the last twelve minutes. Coyle’s arrival is hopefully the catalyst that big Andy needs to sharpen his appetite for the game.

A point will only do if the coming three home games in the next four can be converted into wins. Dundee United did us a favour by defeating Clydebank and so causing next week’s match with Hearts to be postponed because United will have to play their outstanding Scottish Cup tie against Ayr United.

This means that victory over Dundee next Saturday would put the Pars level with Hearts and four goals would even put them above them on goal difference!

Dunfermline Athletic: Butler; Millar, Shields, Tod, Johnson; Thomson, Ferguson (Dair 68min), Dolan, Petrie (Graham 88min); Britton (Smith
78min), Coyle.
Yellow cards: Johnson, Ferguson (56), Dolan (64), Britton (68)

Referee: M Clark (Edinburgh).
Attendance: 8,032.
League position 10th only three behind Hearts

Next match v Dundee (home) Saturday 13th March 1999

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