SPL v Dundee United
DUNDEE UNITED 3 DUNFERMLINE 2 Date: 11/05/04
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 5998, Kick Off: 19:45
Referee: M McCurry, Weather: Overcast 9C
With three goals from Dundee United in the first half hour looked as though it had been a pointless exercise going to Tannadice but goals from Bullen and Crawford turned the game into a contest alas without a fairytale ending.
From the side that lost 2-1 in the capital on Saturday, Dunfermline made two changes for the trip to Dundee. Stevie Crawford and Aaron Labonte came in replacing Greg Shields and Richie Byrne.
Derek Stillie was the first keeper in action spreading himself after 70 seconds to stop Samuel’s shot from the left, 12 yards out. United had an early penalty appeal dismissed in the 3rd minute when a Skerla tackle on the edge of the box sent Charlie Miller flying with a dramatic fall.
The Pars were in position to shoot four minutes later when Derek Young headed a Nicholson cross from the right into the hands of Gallagher. United resumed the one way traffic and this time McInnes sent Scotland into the left side of the Pars box. He fed the ball along the six yard box and Samuel’s shot was blocked but Charlie MILLER prodded in another attempt that went past the falling Stillie and was cleared out by Gary Dempsey. Unfortunately the Irishman was behind the line and so Referee McCurry gave the goal.
Noel Hunt tried a volley from the right side 18 yards out but his effort was wide left but then it was back to the other end. Gary Mason was a bit fortunate when Robson raced on to a Miller ball only to be clipped in the box by the Pars midfielder. Again McCurry signed play on.
Next Kerr released Scotland away down the left and his cross found Colin Samuel. His challenge almost sent the ball in the net but a corner was awarded, no doubt Tod’s attentions enough to divert the ball wide. The scoreline was preserved but not for long!
After 22 minutes Miller launched in a 35 yard shot that Stillie was forced to touch over his crossbar. Barry Robson sent the ball over from the right and Scotland flicked the ball on at the near post for Chris INNES to head in at the far post from 4 yards to make it 2-0.
United were all over the Pars and it didn’t help when Young passed to Scotland. The Trinidadian steamed off down the left channel to find Robson whose cross picked out Wilson on the far right but his pass square was picked up by the Pars keeper. The Pars sole reply came with Andy Tod lofting in an effort that landed on the roof of the net.
Things were bad but they went to worse in the 30th minute with one of the most bizarre goals of the season. Derek Stillie, just outside his box, booted the ball ten yards on to the heel of Aaron Labonte. The rebound beat the keeper and SCOTLAND was in. His biggest problem was stopping the ball before it went over the byeline to the lright of goal. Successfully controlling it on the line he had the easiest of tasks to stick the ball in the Pars net. The goal was met more by laughter than by cheers!
After Derek Young collected a yellow card and conceded a free kick, Stillie maintained his shaky night by dropping Robson’s floated cross from the right. The Dunfermline fans had cause for hope however when Lee BULLEN got a goal back in the 34th minute. A needlessly conceded corner was sent over from the left by Dempsey and the Pars utility man arrived from nowhere to head in from a central position six yards out.
Apart from Crawford putting Nicholson into the box only to be stopped by first half substitute Craig Easton there was little to suggest that the Pars could recover the deficit. Greg Shields came on for Gary Mason at half time. The right back berth was filled by the sub and Lee Bullen moved to left midfield.
Before the team settled into their new shape Stevie CRAWFORD had headed in Dunfermline’s second goal. Derek Young was in good position to receive the ball wide right and his pass into the six yard box perfectly found the head of the Scotland striker to convert just 24 seconds into the second half.
Was the miracle about to materialise? Belief was boosted as a 49th minute corner was knocked down for Young but his swing at it was unsuccessful. Four minutes later Skerla blasted a long range effort in from 35 yards out after Dempsey’s free kick had failed to find Bully and United headed out. The defender’s shot was deflected for a corner on the right which itself brought a fine save out of the yellow shirted stopper.
This time Young connected with Bullen’s knock down to shoot from 8 yards. The save was deflected to the left where Crawford prevented it crossing the line and cut it back for Bullen but his drive was blocked out. United had a chance to get back into the match that they had dominated in the first half. A 57th minute free kick by Wilson was headed off the head of Tod as far as Archibald whose follow up cross was dealt with by Bullen.
In the 62nd minute Greg Shields` match was finished as he bravely went in for a Crawford delivery from the left. Greg stuck in his foot as the ball came across the six yard box. Robson’s tackle, without any intent, left the Pars man with a badly damaged left ankle. David Grondin was then introduced as the sub’s sub.
Given time to re-group United worked their way back. A 69th minute chance fell to Easton after Scotland had played in a fine ball from the left. Stillie produced a good save from Easton who popped up from nowhere. Archibald was allowed a couple of crosses in from the left that Tod and then Stillie were called on to clear.
Kilgannon came on for Tod and from the resumption Bullen was presented with a chance as he collected United’s clearance. The shot unfortunately failed to dip low enough to clinch the equaliser and the ball cleared the bar.
In the end the score remained the same and from disaster the Pars had turned the defeat into a much more presentable result with a better final hour. There were no five or even four star performances for Dunfermline and lets hope this rids all the pre-Cup Final nerves in one night.