SPL: DUNFERMLINE 0 RANGERS 3: 07/02/99
With the square eyes of the nation tuned into this live match on Sky TV, Dunfermline chose this match against Rangers to demonstrate that they intend to fight for their Premier League survival. The couch potatoes got a skin full as they were treated to a fine match between the teams at either end of the league.
Dunfermline brought back Derek Ferguson after injury and Jamie Squires was relegated to the subs bench. This meant that Richard Huxford moved out of midfield to play at right back, a role it has to be said does not suit him.
The large Sunday night crowd of 11,500 had barely warmed their seats when Kanchelskis burst through on the right and brought a fine early save from Pars keeper Lee Butler. Both keepers had the best of the first half with Butler forcing a 22nd minute save from Johansson round his left hand post.
Two quick corners in succession allowed Rangers German goalkeeper Klos to earn his sterling. The second was punched away as the Pars threw everything into opening the scoring. The half time whistle initiated exchanges between Pars fans that were extremely optimistic for their second half fortunes.
Dick Advocaat introduced Neil McCann for the second half and after 11 minutes Rod Wallace’s cross was met first time by Kanchelskis whose right footed volley sailed into the goals hitting the top inside left sidenetting. Dunfermline’s hopes of recovery were quickly dashed when Johannsen hit a fierce left footed goal only three minutes later.
Hopes rose when substitute,Colin Nish was adjudged to have been brought down in the box and a penalty was awarded. Andy Smith saw his attempt fly wide of the target and the chances of a comeback suddenly evaporated. Johansson hit a late third goal but by then defeat had been accepted.
If a fresh manager had been appointed rather than the promotion of Dick Campbell there would be hope that the new approach had chances of success. Campbell has to be disappointed that his side could not take any of the 13 chances that came their way in the course of the match, but even the visiting support would concede that if Dunfermline play like this every week then they will not get relegated..George Shaw was able to trouble the left side of the Rangers defence, Derek Ferguson fought for possession in midfeld.
Chris McGroarty again had a good game and both David Graham and Gavin Johnson showed evidence of better things to come. Dunfermline have not won a home league match against Rangers since March 1970, but on this showing there might just be another two opportunities next season.
The league takes a break this Saturday for Dunfermline’s visit to Celtic on Scottish Cup business. The defeat of Partick Thistle in the previous round might serve as an omen; in the last Scottish Cup winning campaign back in 1968 Dunfermline defeated both Partick and Celtic
DUNFERMLINE: Butler, Huxford, Tod, Shields, Johnson; Shaw (Fraser), French, Ferguson, McGroarty (Nish); Graham, Smith.
Subs not used; Westwater, Squires, McDonald.
Yellow cards; no Pars
Referee W Young
League position 10th (5 points behind Dundee United)
Next match: v Celtic (away) Scottish Cup
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