SPL v Rangers
DUNFERMLINE 1 RANGERS 2 Date: 27/10/04
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 8678 Kick Off: 19:45
Referee: John Underhill Weather: Dry 9C
Davie Hay stuck by the side that brought the three points back from Dundee on Saturday for the visit of Rangers. The visitors made one change from the side that dropped two points at home to Dundee United on Sunday - Hamed Namouchi coming in for the Shoto Arveladze who was struggling with an injury.
Craig Brewster put the Pars ahead with an exquisitely made goal midway through the first half but goals from Boumsong and a penalty from Nacho Novo were enough to secure the victory the Ibrox side.
There was a sense of occasion around East End Park with both a Pipe Band and the Pars Cheerleaders providing the pre-match entertainment. When Referee Underhill got the match underway it was the home side who continued entertaining for the first 45. Dunfermline started with tremendous purpose, Simon Donnelly being the first to get a shot on target firing at Klos after Brewster had got the better of Boumsong to set up the first real chance of the game.
Three minutes later Thomas Butler picked out Brewster but his header failed to bother Klos who gathered easily. An extremely good chance came the Pars way in the 11th minute after fine play from Donnelly and Brewster on the right sent in a ball that Malcolm might have cut out but didn`t. Greg Shields, on the edge of the box, laid the ball back for Barry Nicholson but his well struck shot went narrowly wide of the right goalpost.
Rangers` first threat then came from a corner that Namouchi headed wide. Dunfermline`s first corner in the 13th minute was taken down on the right by Butler, the Rangers defence headed clear but Nicholson`s swish went wayward.
Barry had a chip into the box after Brewster had laid back a fine ball from Mason but it slipped out to the left. Rangers first real chance came in the 19th minute with Prso evading Scott Wilson`s challenge and crossing for Novo but he was wide left.
Dunfermline had had the better of the opening quarter and their good passing and possession football earned them the lead through Craig BREWSTER. The spectacular goal came from an excellent build up with the goalscorer accepting a Skerla header and send the ball right for Donnelly who in turn threaded a ball to Nicholson. A back heeler from the former Rangers player fell nicely to the Pars veteran and he unleashed a great left footed shot from 20yards into the top left of the opposition net.
There was a fright for the Dunfermline fans in the McCathie Stand when right in front of them Novo almost looped a header over Derek Stillie, but the keeper got back to palm the ball away for a corner on the right.
A minute later a fearless challenge from Derek Young on the half way line won the ball away from Bob Malcolm and released Brewster, but his combination with Donnelly and Mason eventually won only a corner.
The Rangers support had become unusually quiet but little wonder since the home team had put in a great start to the game and were looking very much up for this challenge. Dado Prso and Nacho Novo whipped up a chance for Malcolm, but his shot from distance was hit over the bar. Stillie then caused hearts to stop when his clearance from a Thomson pass back was driven at Novo and the rebound went behind his line but thankfully for a goal kick.
Three minutes from the interval Thomas Butler latched on to a loose ball from Malcolm and portrayed striker`s selfishness in going for the shot rather than releasing the ball for the awaiting Brewster. In the end, Klos had an easy job to take the Irishman`s effort.
Predictably the Pars defence had an uncomfortable closing to the first half as Rangers pushed to retrieve their position. Scott Thomson was forced to concede a corner on the right when Prso looked as though he might get round the Pars captain. From that corner, Novo laid the ball to Prso and his shot cannoned off Scott Wilson for another corner from the same side. Survival was achieved and Dunfermline went in with a merited 1-0 interval lead.
It should have come as no surprise that Alex McLeish`s men would have emerged for the second half with a sense of urgency. Yet only 24 seconds had passed when Vignal swung over a ball from the left wing that Stillie had to clutch from under his crossbar. Rangers continued in the direction of Stillie`s goal and within 90 seconds of the second half starting they were back on level terms.
Skerla`s challenge on Prso gave Rangers a free kick midway inside the Pars half, to the left of centre and Fernando Ricksen swung the ball across the Pars penalty box for BOUMSONG, six yards out, to rise above Skerla and head in at the far post.
Two minutes later Novo accepted a pass from Ricksen to send in a shot that Stillie touched on to his right hand post. The second Rangers goal did come however in the 57th minute. A good through ball from Prso laid the ball in the path of Ricksen. He took a good touch inside the box and accelerated at pace towards goal when Andrius Skerla brought him down with a tackle that gave John Underhill no doubt in pointing to the penalty spot.
Ricksen went off having received attention and in the period between the award and the taking of the penalty kick, NOVO won the argument with Prso to have the honour of taking the spot kick. He dispatched it right-footed into the bottom right of the Pars net.
There was some calls for Skerla to be red carded for a last man tackle, but referee deemed not to show a card at all. Fortunately the Lithuanian was still on the park to put a telling tackle in on Prso after the ball broke back from Vignal and concede a corner. When Burke sent in the cross from the right, Prso and Andrews managed to get in each other`s way and the danger was over.
Mehmet came on for Donnelly and Dunfermline managed to put some pressure back on the visitors. Free kicks were awarded but it was one to Rangers that caused the next problem. Malcolm took it short to Khizanishvili and his cross into the box was sent over the bar by Andrews.
In the 75th minute a well worked move involving Butler, Thomson and Mason ended with a delivery from Butler that Brewster, back to goal, flicked on target only for Klos to make a fine save. Rangers threatened again from a Ricksen free kick that Novo managed to miss at the right post.
Andy Tod who had come on for Gary Mason earned a free kick that Brewster took and there were appeals for a penalty as Novo appeared to use a hand to clear the ball out of the Rangers penalty box.
Another foul on Tod, this time by Andrews, allowed Nicholson to send in a free kick that Wilson headed at Klos. Rangers almost scored again in the 88th minute, Prso forcing Derek Stillie to make an excellent Gordon Banks style save. The Fifers continued to try hard, winning a corner on the right that Butler sent over for Skerla to head and then Thomson to thump in a shot on target, but somehow Malcolm managed to be in the right place to deflect the net bound shot away.
In the end, it was a 2-1 defeat but this was after a very good Dunfermline performance. The team looked highly motivated for this match and if they can play with the same drive in the forthcoming games, points should come their way. The match will be remembered for a great Craig Brewster goal. The defence played a fine part with Derek Stillie being the saviour on more than one occasion. Barry Nicholson was awarded the Auto Windscreens Man of the Match.