Bert Paton claimed he had 10 players out through injury and suspension. With Andy Smith out suspended Stewart Petrie returned, but he did not look match fit. McCulloch passed a late fitness test and Harry Curran was also out through injury.

St Johnstone were without George O’ Boyle so the EEP crowd were quiet to start and even quieter after 7 minutes. There was driving rain and a bitterly cold westerly wind. The Perth men pushed forward with confidence and their backs to the elements, and, as is likely to happen in nasty conditions, the Pars defence totally mucked up a fairly tame Saints excursion into the Dunfermline penalty box. Andy Tod fired a clearance into Dave Barnett and the ball ended up in the net.

The best Dunfermline could hope for was to go into the second half only one down. That looked likely after a reasonable amount of pressure on the Saints defence in the second quarter. Nearing half time Allan Preston broke through and with only the keeper to beat Westie pulled him down on the edge of the D. Referee Alan Freeland deemed that a defender had covered behind the keeper and only a yellow card was shown. Other less sympathetic referees could easily have made it red.

Half time brought a welcome respite but David Bingham had suffered concussion in the last attack of the half and so Ivo Den Bieman was brought on for the second half. Ivo had been unhappy to be dropped and on his own admission would prefer to play at central defence (but with Andy Tod). Andy Tod moved forward into an attacking role that some have wanted to see him in for some time. Unfortunately his first touch control was limited and no real threat came from him all second half.

For most Pars fans the display was the worst that they could remember. There was not one Pars shot on target all match and only one corner that could be recalled. Many Pars men were totally anonymous. Nobody played well in the black and white stripes and the match sponsors, Torrie and Co., asked if they could withhold the Man of the Match award before agreeing to give it to Sergio Duarte.

With Aberdeen winning and the next matches being away to Hibs and then Aberdeen trumps are blatantly required for the Paton “Aces”.

DUNFERMLINE: Westwater, Shields, McCulloch, Tod, Barnett, Duarte, Moore (Fraser), Robertson, Petrie, French, Bingham (Den Bieman)
Yellow Cards: Westwater, McCulloch
Referee A Freeland (Aberdeen)
Attendance 6195
Sponsors Man of the Match: Sergio Duarte
League position 7th
Next match v Hibs (away) Saturday 10th January 1998