Because of the suspension of Scott McCulloch, Marc Millar and Stewart Petrie, Manager Campbell was without the whole left side of last week’s team. Gavin Johnson came in on the left of defence and Jamie Squires was brought in at right back releasing Richard Huxford into midfield where he was joined by 17 year-old Chris McGroarty who made his debut.

Maurice Malpas received recognition for his 800th appearance for United just before kick off. Once the presentation party and table was cleared from the pitch this bottom of the league clash got underway under the stewardship of Hugh Dallas. This was a January afternoon whose weather was perfect for football and one where both sides were looking for three points.

Dunfermline started playing towards the United support in the East stand and those fans were silenced when Andy Smith moved the ball out to George Shaw on the right. His low cross was a bit to far to allow McGroarty a dream start but he should have got the ball back across the six yard box instead he allowed Mols to force him to touch.

After twelve minutes David Graham had a real chance to open the scoring when Gavin Johnson fed through a defence splitting ball. Graham would have been better to chip the advancing keeper but when closed down by Sieb Dykstra and De Vos the striker blasted wide.

Joe Miller was set up by a strong Kjell Olaffson run from halfway but the ex Don shot high when he could have threatened Butler’s goal.

Olaffson fired in a 25 yard free kick on 24 minutes that Lee Butler did well to hold. Shaw was managing make headway down the right and getting the crosses in. Three minutes later Andy Smith was spinning around on the six yard line looking for his latest effort. Unfortunately Neil Duffy found the ball before the Pars captain and cleared the danger.

Next Greg Shields headed off the goaline as de Vos headed the ball beyond Lee Butler from an Oloffson free kick.

United had been gaining control of midfield and pushing forward. After 33 minutes they scored from the second of two corners in succession. Joe Miller took the corner on the right and De Vos rose effortlessly to head goalwards and Kjell Oloffson nodded on passed the Dunfermline defence

Only a minute later the goalscorer completed another strong run from halfway with a shot that Lee Butlet had to save at full stretch.

The first half had provided little to boost the Dunfermline fans optimism but scarcely had the pie and Bovril been demolished when Dunfermline were back in the game.
Gavin Johnson took a free-kick and Andy Tod rose at the far post to head the ball across goal for ANDY SMITH was at the far post to shoot in from a narrow angle.

Richard Huxford was yellow carded for a foul on Siggi Jonsson while Dallas had ignored the big Viking’s crude stuff earlier. Next Greg Shields headed away an Olofsson cross.

Jamie Squires and Jonsson were deservedly yellow carded for fouls on Pedersen and Huxford.

Edinho was introduced for Chris McGroarty after 77 minutes but the Brazilian who will be on his way back to Bradford in 10 days could not work a miracle.

Graham had another chance but shot wide as did Alex Mathie who had come for Billy Dodds. United’s young striker Thompson almost stole the points for the Tangerines in the dying minutes.

A point each suits United better than Athletic. Dundee gained a point at Rugby Park which only demonstrates that if we are going to stay in the Premier League we have to gain more points than the Tayside duo on every outing. This was a Cup Final and we didn’t win. On the plus side the team appeared to play with a lot more urgency and purpose in the second half. Young McGroarty played well once his own team remembered he was there.

Greg Shields had another good game but French and Huxford are not the answer to our midfield problems.

DUNFERMLINE: Butler, Squires, Tod, Shields, Johnson; Shaw (Fraser 89), French, Huxford, McGroarty (Edinho 77); Graham (Templeman 83), Smith.
Scorer: Smith (46)
Yellow Cards: Huxford (51), Squires (63)

Referee Hugh Dallas (Motherwell)
Attendance 7646

Next match v Rangers on Sunday 7th February 1999 kick off 6.05pm

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