SPL v Livingston
LIVINGSTON 1 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 02/04/05
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League, Attendance: 4573
Kick Off: 15:00, Referee: Brian Winter
Weather: Dry 17C
For a minute of this match it looked as though Livingston were going to go equal on points with Dunfermline but a quick reply through Noel Hunt put the scores back level and a point each was a much fairer outcome. A wonder strike with his first touch of the ball after coming on in the 77th minute had given 32 year old Hassan Kachloul a heroic introduction to the Almondvale crowd.
Both teams had chances to snatch a winner but a draw suited both teams in the end when they heard of Gary Smith`s dramatic goal at Easter Road that meant foot of the table Dundee United picked up no points.
Dunfermline made three changes from the side that started against Hibs two weeks previously. Aaron Labonte and Barry Nicholson were unavailable through injury and Billy Mehmet was relegated to the bench. In came Gary Mason, Scott Wilson and Iain Campbell. Scott Thomson played in the centre of the defence meaning Andrius Skerla who had played in Lithuania`s 1-1 draw with Bosnia in midweek switched to right back and Andy Tod played up front alongside Simon Donnelly.
Donnelly and Darren Young took the kick off as the game got underway with the Pars defending the goal in front of their own fans in the North Stand. Although taking the ball up to the other end Livvy quickly turned defence into attack with Craig Easton delivering a good ball from the right into the six yard box that Thomson had to be alert to clear with just 40 seconds on the clock.
Dunfermline`s first shooting opportunity came in the second minute when a free kick was awarded after the two Youngs and Andy Tod played some neat football to win the setpiece. From 35 yards out on the right side Campbell fired the ball high over the four man wall and the crossbar.
Skerla demonstrated some good close control and perseverance to put Derek Young away up the right three minutes later. The former Don`s cross was met by the diving head of Andy Tod but his effort from six tard out came back off the left side goalpost and the visitors were luckless with the rebound.
In the 13th minute Donnelly popped a shot from 25 yards out that was wide left and the following minute a Campbell corner from the left deflected off both Tod and Wilson before reaching Derek Young outside the box on the right but his shot through the crowd was easily held by the light blue and black shirted Livingston keeper Roddy McKenzie.
Livvy seemed to give away corners easily and Dorado conceded the next in 17th minute when under pressure from Donnelly. Campbell ball in travelled straight through to Skerla on the far side but nothing could be made of it. In the next minute the Pars might have paid dearly for having nothing to show from the early pressure when O`Brien missed a sitter and sent the ball wide right. Jason Dair`s cross from the left was nodded down by Colin McMenamin for the Livvy no.10 but thankfully he did not have his shooting boots on.
Stillie was called into action when a Scott Wilson header travelled only as far as McNamee and his header to McPake was fired in but the Pars keeper came out to save. McPake headed an O`Brien corner over the bar in the 28th minute almost taking advantage of Wilson`s prolonged objections to the decision.
On the half hour the Fifers had their best chance since hitting the post in the fifth minute. Another Campbell corner went to Derek Young and his pass through Thomson to Donnelly was turned over the crossbar by McKenzie. Livvy got back into the game and seemed to keep play directly in front of the Pars support for the next ten minutes.
Stillie eventually dealt with the second of Livingstons two corners and then Campbell was forced into hooking away for another on their next attack. A weak passback from Wilson caused another but Livingston could make nothing of them.
Dunfermline`s chances started to return with Christiansen firing over the bar when a cross might have created better and in the 45th minute Andy Tod was adjudged to have fouled Dorado as he handled the ball on the edge of the Livvy box. In the minute added at the end of the first half Andy Tod could have put the Pars into an interval lead. A good diagonal ball slipped into the Livvy box from the left off the boot of Darren Young set up the big Kelty man but his shot came off his knees rather than off his boot and the keeper saved from ten yards.
At the start of the second half both sides had headed efforts wide of target. Forstly Snodgrass, Dair and O`Brien carved out a chance for McPake and then at the other end Christiansen and Campbell provided for Tod but the scoreline was unaltered. Derek Stillie was then injured in a collision with McMenamin and McPake who broke away from Scott Wilson. Stillie did enough to put the strikers off but struggled for the rest of the game with a painful shoulder and shin.
Emmanuel Dorado was yellow carded for his axing of Donnelly and from the free kick Campbell narrowly missed Tod but Thomson turned the ball back in and Livvy got it away for a throw in. Derek Young soon had the ball back in the heart of the opposition penalty box but the central defence dealt adequately with the threat.
A throw in was all that could be earned from a 57th minute break that Donnelly and Christiansen fed to the feet of Tod and five minutes later it was the Pars turn to deny a goal on the break. Snodgrass, McMenamin, O`Brien and then Easton were involved before a fine ball was flighted across the Pars six yard box forcing Skerlato turn the ball behind on the left of goal. Stillie successfully palmed away O`Brien`s corner.
Stillie was well out to save with his feet two minutes later when O`Brien and Snodgrass produced another break down the left and then in the 65th minute as the play started to go from end to end Hunt delayed too long on a Donnelly pass and Deloumeaux and Dair blocked out his chance.
Snodgrass sent in a free kick from the right that Derek Young at the far post had to send over his own crossbar when put under pressure from Vincze.
Long throw expert Gabor Vincze was awarded Livingston`s Man of the Match mainly because he continually created danger with his long throw ins. Just before his substitution James McPake came close sending one of Vincze`s launches over the crossbar.
In the 73rd minute Richard Gough introduced one of his two new signings. Pascal Nouma, a free agent since leaving Turkish side Beskitas for a second time came on and immediately his great size was causing problems for the Pars defence. The Frenchman also put himself about flattening Noel Hunt and earning a card in the first two minutes of his debut. Scott Thomson`s attempt from the resulting free kick was easily held by McKenzie. Next Nouma won a free kick 30 yards out to the left of centre that Darren Young fiercely contested. The stoppage allowed Gough to send on Agadir-born Hassan Kachloul for a fairytale first touch. Kachloul played in the English Premiership for Aston Villa and Southampton after the latter paid £250,000 to St Etienne for his signature.
KACHLOUL weighed up the diminutive defensive wall and there was no doubt that he was going to try and hit the net. The taller Pars defence barely had anyone to pick up but as soon as referee Brian Winter blew the Moroccan stepped up and walloped in his right footed strike to put Livingston one up with 78 minutes gone. What a celebration that triggered but it was soon to be dampened.
From the kick off Scott Thomson was quickly in possession and from his new central position he was ideally situated to drive forward and release the ball right to Billy Mehmet, a 73rd minute sub for Derek Young. Mehmet picked out Skerla and as he gained ground along the top of the penalty box he was denied a shot so chose to pick out Noel HUNT on the left side of the penalty box and it was coolly slotted away to stun the home support with a minute of Kachloul`s opener.
Billy Mehmet ran on to Andy Tod`s touch on from a Stillie kick out but the ex-West Ham striker blasted wide right. Livvy had a chance when Snodgrass set up Easton but Stillie held well before in the 86th minute Roddy McKenzie made a save that denied the Fifers full points.
Tod again picked out Mehmet and his pass in from the right along the 18 yard line was struck well by Darren Young but the former Hearts stopper dived at full stretch to his right to turn the low shot around his post.
In the end a draw was satisfying for both teams from a match that was tense and much more entertaining than the previous meeting in December. A win would have been much more useless for either side but in what has become a four team relegation battle one point is better than no points. Next up are Dundee away then Rangers at home and this season wins after the split are going to be very important. Noel Hunt put away his goal well; best for the Pars were Thomson and Tod but no one could fault the effort and determination that the whole team put in at Almondvale.
LIVINGSTON: McKenzie; McNamee, Dorado, Deloumeaux, Dair; Easton, Vincze, O`Brien, Snodgrass (Wilson 89); McMenamin (Kachloul 77), McPake (Nouma 72)
SUBS NOT USED: Meldrum, Rubio, Horvath, Brittain
SCORER: Kachloul (78)
YELLOW CARDS: Dorado (50), McNamee (60), Nouma (75)
DUNFERMLINE: Stillie; Skerla, Thomson, Wilson, Campbell; Derek Young (Mehmet 73), Mason, Darren Young, Christiansen (Hunt 60); Donnelly, Tod
SUBS NOT USED: Langfield, Hristov, McKeown, C Wilson, Ross
Strip: Home White and Black
Goal Scorers: Hunt (79)
Yellow Cards: none