SPL v Dundee United
DUNDEE UNITED 2 DUNFERMLINE 1
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Kick Off: 19:45
Referee: Steve Conroy
Weather: Overcast 9°C
For the trip to Dundee there were three changes from the team that drew at Pittodrie a week past Saturday. In came Scott Thomson, Scott Wilson and Mark Burchill and out went Noel Hunt, Jamie McCunnie and Derek Young as Jim Leishman sprang a surprise with Andy Tod lining up front along side Mark Burchill.
Dundee United kicked off defending the goal at the Shed end as Tannadice filled up quite nicely despite the £21 admission charge but it was Dunfermline who put together the first promising move. Nice play from Burchill to Iain Campbell in the third minute released Greg Ross into the left side of the United penalty box but there was an offside flag up on the far side. Play was swiftly up in front of Allan McGregor with Collin Samuel and Peter Canero getting in shots both of which were past the post.
Jim McIntyre was on to a penetrating Alan Archibald pass that looked dangerous but the United player was unable to take the chance and Aaron Labonte saw the ball out for a corner on the left that was successfully defended. Three minutes later in the 13th of the game Mark Wilson`s superb run up the right fended off numerous Pars challenges before cutting back to the unmarked Samuel who should have scored from 8 yards but he completely mistimed his kick and when Canero stepped in his shot was desperately blocked.
The home side continued to put the Fifers under a fair amount of pressure but the defence were resolute. A Barry Robson header from ten yards went nicely into the hands of McGregor as the game entered the second quarter. The goal that had been looming eventually materialised when a McIntyre through ball in 25 minutes caught the defence out and Collin SAMUEL stole in to sweep the ball into the net.
The goal might have given United a chance to settle and let the Pars chase the game but an equaliser was only five minutes away. A free kick on the right sent over from the boot of Lee Makel was expertly picked out by Scott WILSON just inside the penalty box and his angled header crept in at the right post.
The Pars fans were in full voice and could have had a second to celebrate had Greg Ross been slightly luckier immediately after the goal. Then in 33 minutes an Iain Campbell delivery from the left dropped nicely for Ross in front of goal but the ball was deflected out to the right byeline to be cut back for Tod. There were legs and bodies flying in all directions as defenders and Toddy made efforts to get to the ball. Unfortunately the big Pars striker couldn`t produce the goods.
Things were looking up for Leishman`s men but when Greg Shields was yellow carded for a challenge on Samuel in 41st minute a free kick followed just a few yards outside the Pars box on the right side. Mark Wilson and Barry Robson composed themselves over the ball and it was ROBSON with a low curling shot who shot Dundee United into a half time lead. The ball avoided the wall and bounced wickedly in front of McGregor as he dived to his right.
Even then there were chances to get it back all square at the break. Mark Burchill broke through the left but the sting was taken off his shot by Derek Stillie and Mark Wilson performed acrobatics on the goal line to keep the Pars out.
Half Time: Dundee United 2 Dunfermline Athletic 1
When Ross and Mason got the second half under way Campbell was quick to send an inviting ball along the United six yard line but with the keeper rooted to his line no white shirts could get on the end of the 25 second chance. A 49th minute mistake by David McCracken created a chance for Ross but the youngster did not have experience to capitalise.
A Mark Kerr lob into the box after 55 minutes was headed out by Wilson only as far as Canero and Dunfermline were relieved to see the shot soar over the crossbar. The frustrations began to rile the travelling support as United piled on pressure but a Shields break set up Makel for a shot in 58th minute that the yellow shirted Stillie parried to safety.
Back at the other end Allan McGregor came for a corner from the left but McCracken was given a headed chance that fortunately slipped by the left post. At this stage Dunfermline`s attacks were limited to punts over the top of the United defence and there were sadly no suggestion of anything approaching an equaliser.
Attempts were made to change the Pars fortunes; Scott Thomson was subbed and Derek Young came on in 65 minutes, then four minutes later Noel Hunt was introduced in favour of Burchill. Within two minutes the Irishman was presented with a good chance as Stillie failed to take out a cross and Archibald stepped in to block out the shot from 12 yards out.
United were content to see the clock run down and Dunfermline found it hard to find a way to breakthrough the Tangerine defence. Derek Young almost got on the end of something in the 87th minute but the offside flag was up, then into added time he was given a great chance to grab the equaliser but his low shot just slipped past the left post. Craig Wilson had a header that might have had better effect had he directed it to the base of the near post but he gave the defence an easy job to head clear.
No points then for Leishman`s team. At 2-1 down for the entire second half the push came too late and even then the luck was out. What chances there were wouldn`t fall for them; one of these they might and the sooner the better! Bottom of the table then for Christmas and next it is Rangers on Boxing Day. The fans slipped out to the seasonal favourite from Slade but there will be no Merry Christmas at East End Park this year.Dunfermline: Allan McGregor, Greg Shields, Scott Wilson, Scott Thomson (c) (Derek Young 65), Aaron Labonte, Greg Ross (Craig Wilson 87), Lee Makel, Gary Mason, Iain Campbell; Mark Burchill (Noel Hunt 69), Andy Tod.
Dunfermline Subs not used: Bryn Halliwell, Jamie McCunnie, Bartosz Tarachulski
Dunfermline Strip: Home White and Black
Dunfermline Goal Scorers: Wilson (30)
Dunfermline : Shields (41),Tod (85)
Dundee United: Derek Stillie, Mark Wilson, David McCracken, Paul Ritchie (c), Alan Archibald, Peter Canero (Stuart Duff 68), Mark Kerr, Grant Brebner (Lee Miller 74), Barry Robson (Derek McInnes 83), Collin Samuel, Jim McIntyre.
Dundee United Subs: Craig Samson (GK), Garry Kenneth, David Fernandez, David Goodwillie
Dundee United Goal Scorers: Samuel (25), Robson (41)