SPL: DUNFERMLINE 1 LIVINGSTON 2: 22/09/01

With investigations going on into the latest Chris Tarrant Millionaire it was Jim Leishman`s Livvy that turned the spotlight on Dunfermline`s search for answers. Jimmy Calderwood made a plea in the match day programme for the Pars supporters to get behind and try and lift a team that had lost its five previous SPL matches.

So having asked the audience and demanded more than 50:50 from the players it was disappointing that Dunfermline coughed their way to defeat and feel cheated that Javier Broto, the Livvy keeper, made them walk away with nothing.

Jimmy Nicholl took the chair of responsibility because of Jimmy Calderwood`s enforced absence through ill health. Barry Nicolson`s red card at Easter Road made room for skipper Ian Ferguson`s first appearance of the season and Justin Skinner came in for David Nicholls.

With the Pars playing towards the 800 Livvy fans in the visitors end it was the goal in front of them that saw all the early action. After five minutes Gary Mason sent the ball out to Stewart Petrie on the left wing and he floated over a good cross that Scott Thomson nodded down to Gus MacPherson. Former boss Bobby Williamson was watching from the stand and his decision to release the former Killie stalwart was vindicated as Gus blasted over the crossbar.

Three minutes later though the goal scoring began. Crawford found de Gier inside the box and as the Dutchman held up the ball Mason arrived to come close. Immediately from the clearance Mason passed to MacPherson on the right and Williamson could not have missed the fine cross which evaded the Livingston defence and Broto to let CRAWFORD turn in at the far post.

MacPherson shot a glance at the linesman to make sure no offside flag was raised before joining the goal celebrations. Andrius Skerla put his keeper under pressure with a pass back four minutes later and Scott Thomson`s blooter was closed down by Aurellio. Anything might have happened and the Fifers were happy to concede a throw in on the far side.

Skinner played a quality ball through the Livvy defence to send Crawford into the box. The international striker produced deft skills with a quick turn but did not even win the corner.

Next it was Petrie who sent a cross in from the left, de Gier knocked down for Crawford on the edge of the box but his effort was high over the crossbar.

Scott Thomson came out to clutch the a free kick from the right and play returned to the other end. On 28 minutes an Ian Ferguson free kick picked out Crawford in the penalty box and after turning Marvyn Andrews shot unfortunately high of target.

Two minutes later Gus MacPherson tested the keeper with a shot from an Andrews clearance. de Gier knocked the ball down to Mason but the shot was wide left. MacPherson was forced to go off for stitches after a 36 minute clash with David Bingham and the Pars played for seven minutes with one man short.

Livingston`s first threat came in the 38th minute as Thomson held a Xausa shot. Next minute Dunfermline were desperately unlucky not to double their advantage. Mason and Thomson featured to put de Gier in position to shoot and the low shot was turned on to the left post by Broto and Crawford was deceived by the rebound and Livvy survived.

Five minutes of added time at the end of the first half were uncomfortable for Dunfermline. Firstly a corner kick from the right bounced out of Scott Thomson`s hands and Mason`s clearance was hurried but effective. Then an Andrews header to Xausa was saved by the keeper and then Skinner`s back header caused a fright and Skerla had to be quick to deny Xausa.

Dunfermline were the better team for the bulk of the first half and really should have been further ahead than just the one goal.

Half time: Dunfermline 1 Livingston 0

The second half was a different story for the Pars with Livingston doing most of the pressing and the home side not looking like adding to their tally until the last five minutes.

The best Dunfermline came up with was a cross cum shot from MacPherson on the right wing that landed on the roof of the net. Just as the Pars seemed to have weathered the Livingston pressure and the defence was looking stronger with four across the back disaster struck.

Substitute Massimiliano Caputo sent David BINGHAM speeding through the centre and the ex Dunfermline player left Andrius Skerla behind as he put away the equaliser.

The home support tried to rally their troops as Jimmy Nicholl sent on Lee Bullen for Skerla. A free kick from Thomson to Petrie almost provided Crawford with an answer off David Nicholls head but the striker failed to deliver.

Nicholls then had a shot blocked before he managed one that Crawford dummied but brought a great save out of the Livvy keeper.

An error from Skinner let the former Raith winger, Barry WILSON in to net the winner. The first SPL goal for Wilson sealed the first away win in the SPL for Livingston with just eight minutes remaining

The Livingston supporters were basking in bright sunshine by this time in stark contrast to the mood around the rest of the 4516 crowd. Dunfermline pushed hard to snatch the equaliser but Broto performed further heroics to secure the win bonus.

De Gier tried one from a Mason lay off, Nicholls shot wide , Thomson hit one over the bar, Crawford`s cross was held on the line by Broto and Lee Bullen beat two men in a break up the right but only won a corner.

Justin Skinner pushed up to try and redeem himself and almost provided the answer as a curling ball surprised Bullen and went straight past the far post. That final answer was not good enough however. When the whistle came after four minutes of added time there remained more questions than answers and no one could be fairly confident about the future at East End Park.

Match Sponsors, Stadia Management`s Man of the match was Gary Mason. The player gave 100% but how the team must feel deflated by an excellent display of goalkeeping coupled with no breaks whatsoever for a Dunfermline side creating records for matches without a win. The last time they went six matches without a win was in season 1991/92.



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