SPL: LIVINGSTON 4 DUNFERMLINE 1: 27/04/02
Dunfermline made two changes for their visit to Livingston; Sean Kilgannon for David Nicholls and Colin Nish given his first ever start for the Pars in place of Steven Hampshire. The Pars kicked off in the rain with the Almondvale floodlights shining down despite it being 12 noon, the Pars earliest ever kick off in a league match.
The visitors started brightly however with Colin Nish making ground down the right to send over a good cross into the box that Stevie Crawford headed just wide of Broto`s right hand post. Had the ball eluded Crawford then Kilgannon was waiting behind him for what would have been an easier chance.
The ball was a `hot potato` for some time as players found it hard to get the ball on the deck. A break off the advancing Scott Thomson allowed Stuart Lovell to thread a long through ball that introduced Marco Ruitenbeek to the action as he had to come out to bravely collect from the feet of David Fernandez.
Dunfermline won their first corner in the 9th minute when a Crawford shot was deflected off Rubio but the corner was easily punched away by Rubio. Three minutes later at the other end Fernandez looked to have gotten the better of MacPherson but when the cross was executed Wilson was deemed to be offside.
MacPherson next supplied a good ball to Nicholson who played it of to Dair. Jason`s cross was just too big for Kilgannon at the far post. Marco managed to create danger next by picking up the ball in his own box after he had already clutched it and dropped it to the ground. A free kick was given just inside the Pars box but Santini`s shot was well saved by the keeper dropping to his left.
Goalmouth action was becoming common place now and when Fernandez sent over a pass to Wilson Karnebeek was fortunate that his clearance off Wilson on the 18 yard line, fell behind for a goal kick. The Livvy number ten continued to cause havoc in the visitors defence mainly at the expense of Gus MacPherson.
Having beaten Gus Fernandez gained ground to produce a shot that was deflected off the right foot of Andrius Skerla for a corner. Quino was next with a good sweep across field to set up Wilson with a first time effort that went straight to Ruitenbeek.
Livingston may have started nervously with the thought of European qualification perhaps getting to them but by midway through the first half the home team were breaking up every Dunfermline move and looking likely to score on every break.
The Pars forward movements won two corners but Broto just fisted both away and Barry Nicholson had a cross/shot that went straight to the keeper. MacPherson was harshly yellow carded for fouling Fernandez in the 29th minute and he became the villain of the Livingston crowd attracting boos for the rest of the afternoon.
The Livvy drums had been uncharacteristically quiet, given the importance of the match but in the 34th minute the tune changed. A Barry Wilson corner from the left was met by LOVELL on the corner of the six yard box and he flicked it off the top of his head into the top left of the Dunfermline goal. Kilgannon had unsuccessfully challenged the goalscorer whose conversion was made easier through the lack of anyone on the far post.
The drums came to life and the tempo of the match rose. Within three minutes of the opener the Pars had two chances. Firstly a Nicholson free kick was headed on by Crawford to Skerla and his header was cleared off the line by the combination of Broto and Brinquin. The clearance just eluded Nish and there were claims for a penalty as Andrews seemed to use a hand.
Then MacPherson took a lay off from Dair to send over a fine pass from the right that Nish headed just outside the left goalpost. The Pars pressure paid off however in the 42nd minute of the half.
Sean Kilgannon provided a first class cross into the far side of the penalty box for Nicholson to head back down even although Santini was challenging him. From the inside left position, Jason DAIR stepped in to blast the loose ball into the top right of the goal.
The half finished with more Dunfermline pressure. As Crawford broke down the left Nicholson seemed to be taken out by Rubio so it was Kilgannon who was on the end of Crawford`s cross but the keeper made a fine one handed save to get it away.
Half Time: Livingston 1 Dunfermline 1
The second half almost got off to a disastrous start. Crawford playing in a midfield position got dispossessed by Fernandez but the Pars had to be relieved when the pass to Wilson on the edge of the box was sliced by the former Inverness man.
The Livvy right winger had a better attempt just four minutes later from a similar position but the ball spun wide of the left post with the referee dubiously judging that Marco had not placed a touch on it.
Dunfermline countered but in a slow deliberate move with Mason first driving down the left to turn and then play the ball through Crawford to Thomson and out right to Dair. MacPherson made the decoy run up the right and Dair crossed for Nicholson but he shot high and wide from 15 yards out.
Two minutes later Crawford got around Anrews on the right wing to send in a great ball to the unmarked Nish. The youngster put a guiding touch on the ball but unfortunately the ball just crept past the left goalpost by the closest possible of angles.
Scott Thomson was next to get involved in the attack and he fought of Quino, Rubio and Santini before sending in a good ball to Nish who went down in the box as Andrews slid in to clear.
A lot of chances came the Pars way but it was Livingston who were to regain the lead in the 61st minute. Andre Karnebeek appeared to put a hamstring as he put in a tackle deep on the Pars left. A corner was awarded but the Dutchman had to leave the field to take no further part.
Wilson took the corner and David XAUSA nipped in on the nearside to divert the ball into the net at the far post. Defence marked absent as only Gus MacPherson appeared to be inside the six yard box to assist Marco. Stewart Petrie then came on to take over the defensive duties on the left side.
In the 73rd minute Rubio`s tackle on Nish on the edge of the D resulted in Mike McCurry giving a free kick. The set piece was well struck by Scott Thomson passed the advancing Lovell but Broto parried it over the crossbar.
Having survived that Livingston then got further ahead. A long ball hoofed down the middle was watched by Skerla and Fernandez but the Pars man was indecisive and the ball came back off Fernandez to XAUSA who netted from outside the box with a right footed shot that whizzed passed Skerla into the far right of the goal. Three - one and Livvy`s UEFA Cup dream was looking real.
Nicholls replaced Dair after the goal and he almost cashed in on a poor clearance from the Livingston keeper but the shot was wide right of target. Livvy`s sub David Bingham should have made it four with ten minutes to go after a good cross from Tosh hit off Bingo but into the crowd.
But the Almondvale crowd were treated to another in the 83rd minute when Fernandez nutmegged Skerla to make a run into the box to shoot. The ball rebounded high and left to QUINO who shot low and hard passed Ruitenbeek and Thomson on the line.
Makel hit the crossbar in the 93rd minute but by then nobody cared. Dunfermline were disappointed with their day. Marco very annoyed at losing four but there will be more than a few Dunfermline fans and players who will not be sad to see Jim Leishman`s team qualify for Europe at their very first attempt.
Congratulations to Jim, Davie Hay, John Robertson, Dominic Keane and all the players who have made Livingston Football Club the success it now is.
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