SPL: KILMARNOCK 4 DUNFERMLINE 0: Date: 21/05/05
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League, Attendance: 5100
Kick Off: 15:00, Referee: Willie Young
Weather: Dry 15C
It was a hugely optimistic and sizeable 1500 travelling support that followed the team down the newly completed M77 to Kilmarnock. Leishman`s first official match in his second era saw the team that started at Tannadice last Sunday take to the sun drenched Rugby Park turf for the final match of the 2004-2005 season.
What a transformation in under three weeks. On the first Saturday of May it all looked doom and gloom for the Pars as they left Almondvale staring relegation in the face but the road to Ayrshire was silver lined and the support severely threatened to out number the home fans as the visitors in red away shirts with white shorts kicked off attacking the goal in front of the Moffat Stand.
The atmosphere had a distinct end of term feel, thankfully lacking the tension of last Sunday and that which would be at Inverness and Livingston this afternoon. Play was fairly open to start although it was Dunfermline who won the first corner of the game in the sixth minute. Iain Campbell swung over a left footed delivery from the right that went out from the defence to Darren Young. The Pars player shot from 25 yards but his effort was blocked.
Home fans had little to cheer until industrious play from Rhian Dodds won himself into a shooting chance that he sent wide of the right post from 30 yards. Back at the other end Lee Makel sent an inviting ball through the Killie six yard box but just too far in front of the inrushing Andy Tod.
Kilmarnock played themselves into the match and their period of possession was punctuated with the opening goal of the game. In the 25th minute Peter Leven sent in a dangerous ball that Tod headed behind for a corner on the right. Leven sent the ball into the Pars six yard box for Scott Wilson to head over his own crossbar for another corner from the right. This time Gary LOCKE rose to head Kilmarnock into the lead it`s pace giving Craig Wilson little chance on the line. The first goal conceded under Jim Leishman came in the 26th minute.
Tod and Derek Young combined to lay the ball off for Makel to send Craig Wilson down the right. A corner was won but the home defence coped easily with Skerla`s challenge. Kilmarnock continued to take the game to Dunfermline and Peter Leven was allowed a crack at goal from a free kick awarded when Mason flattened Naismith but Derek Stillie easily held the shot.
Three minutes from the interval Darren Young`s throw to Wilson was played in for Derek Young and Willie Young gave a weak free kick that Makel placed over the two man into the box but again the home defence dealt with that comfortably. Campbell chipped through a neat ball behind the Killie defence but Derek Young`s ball to Makel was sent too far through the box out to the left.
Before the half finished Kris Boyd almost carved out a chance for himself. Having hauled Scott Thomson off the ball on the Kilmarnock left he then beat off the challenge of Scott Wilson on the edge of the penalty box but Nipper was back to sweep the ball back to his black shirted keeper who scooped the danger away.
The second half was only 24 seconds old when Kilmarnock doubled their lead. Naismith`s run down the right wrong footed Iain Campbell and with Thomson drawn out of position to narrow the angle DODDS received the pass with plenty of time to compose himself to slip the ball into the left side of the goal. Killie were looking like scoring again less than two minutes later when Leven kept the ball in on the left and crossed for Naismith but Campbell made a fine block to keep the shot out.
Andy Tod sent the ball wide right in the 50th minute and Derek Young`s return was met by his brother on the edge of the six yard box but the shot was swept passed the left post. Five minutes later Kilmarnock accepted the simplest of chances to make the lead three. Gary Wales prod to the right wing was accepted by an unmarked Naismith and his drive was tapped in from four yards by Kris BOYD.
We all know that Dunfermline had to lose by seven to be threatened with relegation but the way the goals were going in in this second half the leakage was keeping up with the clock! Two more Kilmarnock corners kept the pressure on the Pars before the defence lost yet another goal. Naismith again had stacks of space on the right perimeter of the penalty box to slip the ball through for Gary McDONALD to curl a shot that sneaked in at the left post.
Gary Mason won a corner down on the left but Makel`s ball was headed clear before reaching any red shirt. Killie were showboating basking in the sunshine and keeping Dunfermline off the ball. The joy of seeing the troublesome Naismith being substituted in the 73rd minute was short lived as subs Murray and Johnston resumed the cause tormenting the Pars defence.
Campbell cleared a net bound shot from Murray in the 76th minute after Wales have picked him out beautifully on the left. Locke then thundered a shot over the crossbar as Dunfermline grew even more impotent. Leish tried all three subs, Mehmet, Donnelly and eventually Labonte but nothing changed. Mehmet and Donnelly threaded the ball square to Darren Young on the top of the box but the shot was deflected for corner out right. Makel`s ball was effortlessly headed away by the defence.
The season drifted to a close with the Pars fans warming up for the SPL meeting with Falkirk in the autumn. In full song, rarely have a side losing four nil had such a rousing support. It was not one of our best season`s but the optimism is there for 2005-2006.
Thank goodness that a victory was not required for SPL survival. Dunfermline have not won at Rugby Park since 1992 and on this showing it will not change for some time yet.
Willie Young was applauded on to the park for his final SPL match. He continued to show his light side by threatening to show Jim Jeffries a yellow card for over reacting when Andrius Skerla accidentally flattened the Killie gaffer outside the dug out.
DUNFERMLINE: Stillie. Skerla, S Wilson, Thomson, Campbell. C Wilson (Labonte 84), Darren Young, Mason, Makel. Tod (Mehmet 62), Derek Young (Donnelly 73)
SUBS NOT USED: Langfield, Dunn, Hunt, Ross
STRIP: Red Shirts White shorts
YELLOW CARDS: Makel (64), Darren Young (70)
KILMARNOCK: Combe. Fowler, McDonald, Greer, Hay. Dodds, Locke, Naismith (Johnston 73), Leven (Murray 73). Wales (Nish 81), Boyd
SUBS NOT USED: Smith (GK), Hamill, Loy, Wild
SCORERS: Locke (26), Dodds (46), Boyd (55), McDonald (64)
YELLOW CARD: Greer (20)