SPL v Dundee

DUNFERMLINE 5 DUNDEE 0 Date: 07/05/05

Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League, Attendance: 8313
Kick Off: 15:00, Referee: Alan Freeland
Weather: Sunny 13C

The Pars scored five SPL goals for the first time since beating Motherwell 5-2 in July 2001 . The win over their nearest rivals now puts SPL survival back on the agenda.

A week is a long time in football, so the old cliche says, and nowhere was bit more evident than East End Park this afternoon. To say that the home support was overflowing with confidence is perhaps overstating it slightly but there was a noticeable change in the atmosphere between last Saturday`s disaster and today`s six-pointer.

Given the team`s constant lack of ammunition up front, not even the most confident of Pars fans could have anticipated what was to follow. Anyone brave enough to have put money on the final score line today at 100-1 will be very happy indeed; anyone crazy enough to have backed the Pars to notch up four before half time is at this moment probably taking a stroll through their nearest Porsche showroom.

A lovely sunny day, a larger than average crowd of over 8,000 which saw a delayed kick off and some pre-match motivation that included the surreal sound of Sammy the Tammy singing; not quite a carnival but the support certainly got off to a buoyant start. However, it could all have gone so wrong when kick-off arrived.

Within seconds of commencement the visitors had earned a corner. Derek Stillie confidently claimed the cross, clearing the danger and settling the nerves of all concerned. With this momentary lapse out the way, the home fans eased their hearts back down into their chests and the Pars returned to the task at hand. Within two minutes they had taken the lead.

Demonstrating some mesmerising skill that belied his status as (usually) a central defender, Skerla cut a swathe through the heart of the Dundee team as if the ball was glued to his foot before laying the ball off to Lee Makel. His pass wide found Campbell, who swung in a delightful cross for the head of Tod, forcing Soutar into a good point-blank save. The rebound was just out of reach of the big keeper however and Derek YOUNG managed to scramble the ball into the net from close range.

Five minutes later Makel was fouled on the edge of the box and decided to go for some revenge himself. Having opted to test Soutar from the free kick, his curling effort dropped just over and onto the roof of the net.

Dundee continued to press and Bobby Mann came close with a couple of headers, one off target and the other superbly saved by Stillie. Sandwiched between these two chances, the visitors managed to notch up a string of set pieces but failed to capitalise on any of them.

The Pars eventually started to reapply the pressure to the Dundee goal with three corners in quick succession but like their opponents failed to convert any of them. They were not to be denied for long however, extending their lead with just under half an hour gone.

A long ball up the park looked fairly harmless until Derek Young managed to squeeze in between Soutar and his defence. His first effort ricocheted between the legs of the keeper and spilled out into the goalmouth. Both men scrambled for the rebound; once more, Derek YOUNG was quicker than Soutar and, once more, the ball was bundled home from close range.

If that second goal gave the Pars a lift, just three minutes later they were in almost uncharted territory. It was difficult to tell if Darren Young`s effort was a hopeful ball across the six yard box or just a woefully inaccurate shot; in the end, Dundee`s McDONALD had just as much difficulty in judging it and helplessly diverted it past his own keeper to gift the Pars a third.

Dundee battled hard and again won a free kick in a dangerous position but once more Stillie produced a save from the top drawer to keep them at bay. A brief skirmish followed, which saw both Lovell and Hunt booked for a brief bout of handbag-swinging, surely a trivia question in the making as Hunt was still on the bench at the time.

The ball soon found its way to the opposite end of the park but tempers were still fraying. While referee Freeland kept a close watch on the all-in wrestling at the edge of the box (Bobby Mann playing Giant Haystacks to Andy Tod`s Big Daddy), his assistant was quick to note an incident involving Fotheringham. The Dundee player was lucky to escape with only a yellow card; having already taken out Young with a cynical foul, he then chased after his victim and attempted to hit him again while he was grounded.

When the situation finally calmed down, Lee Makel stepped up to take the free kick. He whipped the ball into the box and found SKERLA, who fired a powerful header into the roof of the net.

The visitors started the second half with a liveliness that was unexpected given the score line but after Skerla headed a dangerous cross off the goal line the Pars regained their edge.

Just after the hour mark Makel let fly with a 25-yard shot that was tipped over the bar by Soutar.

The ensuing corner was cleared but only as far as Gary Mason. His looping ball back into the box found Derek YOUNG, who was again first to the ball in a race against the Dees` keeper and nodded the ball over Soutar`s head to earn the Pars man a hat-trick.

Just three minutes later Young grabbed what appeared to be his fourth with an acrobatic effort after Soutar had fumbled the ball under pressure. The man with the whistle had other ideas however and presumably was beginning to pity the clumsy keeper when disallowing a perfectly legitimate effort by Young for an alleged foul on Soutar. Young was to have one final chance at goal before being replaced by Hunt but Soutar saved his effort.

Dundee did not give up and within the last five minutes saw Stillie pull out another terrific save from a Caballero shot and Bobby Mann again sent a powerful header just off target. They could find no way through however and the Pars finished comfortable winners thanks to a healthy chances-to-goals ratio.

When examining the score line, it is inevitably the "five" that will grab most of the attention - but considerable plaudits must also be given in respect of the "nil", for which confident goalkeeping, solid defending and a battling midfield must each take some credit. Two separate man-of-the-match awards were awarded after the game and, fittingly, one went to hat-trick hero Young while the other went to the rock at the heart of the defence, Scott Wilson.

An all round solid performance combined with the Leish factor have given the Pars and their vociferous support a lift that seemed a world away at this time last week. That lift must now be converted to wins as Dunfermline face two tough away games knowing that SPL survival is still in their own hands.

Dunfermline Squad: Stillie, Skerla, Scott Wilson, Scott Thomson (Labonte 71), Campbell, Darren Young, Mason, Makel, Derek Young (Hunt 79), Tod (Mehmet 63), Craig Wilson.
Dunfermline Subs not used: Langfield, Donnelly, Dunn, Ross
Dunfermline Goal Scorers: Derek Young 2, 29, 64, McDonald 33 og, Skerla 39
Dunfermline Yellow Cards: Skerla, Hunt, Darren Young

Dundee Squad: Soutar, McNally (Larsen 79), Mann, McDonald, Robb, Brady, Fotheringham (Robertson 79), Smith, Anderson, Lovell (Barrett 86), Caballero
Dundee Subs: Dubourdeau, Clark, Conway
Dundee Yellow Cards: Lovell, Fotheringham