Pars fans streamed to East End Park for the Derby game against the Jambos. The town centre pubs had full houses with doors closed by one o’clock and the queuing fans outside the ticket office were disappointed by the police message at 2.40 saying no more tickets would be sold.

David Graham started the match and Andy Tod returned after suspension. Yet again Edinho’s contribution was limited to 8 fading minutes and new signing Billy McDonald was given all of two minutes to make an impression. The decision to bench Edinho bamboozles most of the fans and his introduction at the expense of Gerry Britton was greeted by boos all round since the, recently returned from Raith, striker was by far the hardest working and most dangerous player the Pars had on the park.

Hamilton and Jenkinson had chances for Hearts in the opening quarter and Dunfermline failed to pose a threat on the Hearts goal. Then after 31 minutes a George Shaw header brought a save out of McKenzie in the Hearts goal and on 40 minutes David Graham had his shot saved by the Hearts no.2 keeper.

After the interval Andy Tod hit the crossbar from a Stewart Petrie corner but no one could convert with the follow up. Dunfermline had their best spell of pressure in several matches after that but failed to capitalize. The match then swung to Hearts and there was a fear of a Tynecastle repeat with a late goal. But Hearts were just as poor as Dunfermline in search of goal and the game fizzled out to the goalless draw that was predictable from early on. Both sets of fans booed the final whistle. Hearts had all the excuses without the suspended David Weir and Gilles Rousset, and without injured Cameron, Adam, Naysmith, Salvatori and Ritchie. Dunfermline have only themselves to blame. Some of their players find it difficult to pass to their own men. Richard Huxford looks decidedly uncomfortable at right back where he almost teed up at least two chances for the Edinburgh men. Greg Shields played very well at the centre of defence but Hamish French and Andy Smith failed miserably in their cast as midfielders.

Dunfermline now lie four points adrift at the foot of the Premier League. This is not the kind of “first foot” that is welcome. Ten league victories in 58 outings since the start of the 1997-98 season is simply not good enough. Despite their lack of contracts the management are unlikely to walk away. The winter break means that the next league match is not for four weeks. Dundee United next followed by Rangers and Kilmarnock. First Division football is a distinct possibility unless things change.

DUNFERMLINE: Butler; Huxford, Tod, Shields, McCulloch;.Shaw, Smith, French, Petrie; Britton (Edinho 82), Graham (McDonald 88).
Subs not used: Westwater, Templeman, Martin.
Yellow Cards: Petrie (55)

Referee: George Simpson (Westhill)
Attendance 9227
League position: 10th and bottom four points below Dundee United

Next match v Dundee United (away) Saturday 30th January 1999

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