SPL: DUNFERMLINE 0 RANGERS 0: 13/12/97
This was not a game that Dunfermline were expected to win but had Andy Smith been allowed on to the park for more than the 50/50 half time draw the suspended top goalscorer would have been the difference between one and three Premier points.
Paton and Campbell put out a team that was never going to leak goals like the magnificent Ibrox disaster back in October. Craig Robertson was moved from sweeper to central midfield/ first line of defence with Harry Curran and David Bingham on either side of him. Behind that a back five of Shields, Den Bieman, Barnett, Tod and McCulloch. Hamish appeared to be dropped and George Shaw and Stewart Petrie were up front.
Dunfermline’s best chance came in the opening two minutes when Andy Tod just failed to score from a cross ball. It was not until the 43rd minute until any side had a shot on target with Westwater stopping an Alex Clelland effort after the defender had created alot of space on the right.
The game was appropriately sponsored by a local firm of criminal defence lawyers and usually its the team of class players who require the Referee’s protection. On this occasion it was the reverse - Rangers actions were of international class. David Bingham was taken out in quick succession by Sergio Porrini and Rino Gattuso with both men making remarkable escapes from the referee’s wrath.
Gordon Durie did pick up a yellow card for yet another foul on Bingham and he was the victim of what looked liked a referee’s conviction that the next Rangers foul was going to be bookable. Gattuso did get yellow carded in the second half for further crime this time on Shields.
Richard Gough was substituted at half time but it was up front that really mattered for the Champions. The Dunfermline defence weathered a barrage of efforts as Rangers played towards their own supporters. Ian Westwater saved the shots on target and got somehow to all the dangerous crossballs. Walter Smith later described his style as “unorthodox”. A number of Rangers efforts were driven high or wide. Shields and McCulloch must have been giving Walter Smith misgivings for having issued them P45s. Den Bieman and Barnett played really well and the Match Sponsor somehow managed to give their Man of the Match award to Andy Tod.
A very good performance from the Pars who have never beaten Rangers in the Premier League in 22 outings but the important factor was in making sure that Rangers did not add to their 63 Premier goals against us.
DUNFERMLINE: Westwater, Shields, McCulloch, Tod, Barnett, Curran, Den Bieman, Robertson, Petrie, Bingham (Duarte), Shaw (Moore)
Yellow Cards: no Pars
Referee: George Simpson (Westhill)
League Position 5th
Next Match Saturday 20th December 1997 away v Motherwell
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