SPL v Hearts
HEARTS 2 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 08/05/04
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 10846, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Kevin Toner Weather: Rain 16C
Third place was finally conceded at Tynecastle on Saturday but all credit to Jimmy Calderwood’s side for keeping the challenge alive until two games from the end of the season. Two Marc De Vries goals shot Hearts back into the driving seat after an Andy Tod header in the 12th minute had put the Fifers ahead.
Dunfermline travelled to Tynecastle in search of a win that could keep alive their dreams of third place. Strikers Craig Brewster and Stevie Crawford were out injured, as was last week’s replacement Billy Mehmet. Jimmy Calderwood was still without Scott Thomson; Scott Wilson is still recovering from appendicitis and Darren Young was out injured as well.
Hearts kicked off playing towards the Pars support in the Roseburn Stand but it was the visitors who took up the initiative, no doubt boosted by the confidence of defeating Celtic last Sunday. The first incident of note was a head clash between Noel Hunt and Steven Pressley in the seventh minute. This resulted in the Hearts captain having to leave the field for 10 minutes to get stitches.
Hearts created a chance when play resumed with Maybury receiving a ball from McKenna that the Irishman shot high over the bar. Paul Hartley’s cross was then put out for a corner by Gary Mason and when the ball came over from the right Bullen’s attempt at defending required Mason to clear off the line and Shields was able to get away Janczyk’s follow up.
When Dunfermline were awarded a free kick on the left midway inside the Hearts half, Gary Dempsey swept over a great ball that leaping high over the defence, Andy TOD headed in the opener from six yards. In so doing the Pars had taken full advantage of Pressley’s absence and registered their first goal at Tynecastle since December 2001.
Skerla sent Bullen up the right in the 16th minute and his ball in from the corner flag was challenged by both Craig Gordon and Dempsey. The keeper held the ball but was injured in the process.
Andy Tod’s hold on Marc De Vries earned Hearts another free kick that Janczyk sent in from the right. Tod’s header away dropped to Alan Maybury but his shot from 25 yards out was high. Steven Pressley returned after 19 minutes.
Andy Tod did really well in 26 minutes to touch away a good Hammill ball heading for De Vries. Then in the next minute McKenna headed narrowly wide as he got on the end of another Hammill cross. Dunfermline replied with a good build up involving Bullen and Hunt after a strong challenge from Byrne had won the Pars possession. Wen Mason fed the ball out to Richie Byrne the full back travelled up the left to send over a good cross that found Lee Bullen’s head 15 yards out but his effort was not enough to extend the lead.
Steven Pressley’s injury was causing problems since his stitches were on his brow and his role in centre defence required much heading of the ball. He was given attention on the touchline reminiscent of many trainers towel actions on boxers.
Tynecastle wouldn’t be the same without the element of dissension that is all part of being a Jambo. At 3.30pm the chorus of "Sack the Board" was accompanied by a show of signs that suggested that their Chief Executive should go. Scott Severin changed the Hearts supporters tune with an effort that was deflected wide left for a corner. When the corner came in the second delivery was aimed at the head of De Vries but Stillie was out to expertly pluck it away from him.
It looked as though the Pars might hold on to their lead at the interval until a simple goal gave Hearts the equaliser in the 42nd minute. Alan Maybury, only ten yards inside his own half launched a ball into the Pars penalty box that DE VRIES rose to head low left beyond Stillie who was a virtual spectator as the alien encroached on his territory.
In injury time at the end of the first half Hearts threatened to rip the Pars defence apart and they were grateful to Greg Shields who stepped in with expert timing to stop Maybury’s driving run.
Hearts with the pre break confidence-boost started the second 45 the stronger. De Vries and McKenna put Hartley through the middle with a dangerous break that looked disastrous but even after Stillie came out and forced Hartley wide Mason was back to clear off the line yet again. The corner from the right brought further problems since Andriius Skerla was cut in defending it and he had to leave the field of play for stitching.
Hearts turned up the pressure as McKenna hit wide and Dunfermline’s reply in 54 minutes came via Nicholson to Hunt who returned it for the skipper to send out to Byrne. His cross found Hunt but Robbie Neilson was at the far post to beat away the problem. The Pars first corner of the game came from a Dempsey cross and it was the Irishman who sent the corner in from the right that Shields and Hunt tried to attack but Hearts got it away.
Once more the Pars began to look like the team that started the game. Derek Young showed some nice touches in putting Dempsey in position for a long range shot that Gordon held. Three minutes later in the 64th minute a De Vries challenge on Tod earned a free kick that Barry Nicholson took quick but unfortunately did not fool the keeper.
Richie Byrne got passed Robbie Neilson on the left but his final pass was not strong enough to carve out a chance inside the Hearts box. This period of better Pars possession was cleverly interupted by two Hearts substitutions in 67th and 69th minute. Andrius Skerla was also replaced by Aaron Labonte since the Lithuanian defender had a face cut that required two stitches. Three Pars corners in quick succession ended with a Dempsey effort from 25 yards that went behind off the top of the crossbar.
Hunt headed a Shields free kick into the hands of Gordon before Craig Levein introduced Boyack fot Janczyk, his third sub in the 74th minute. Boyack’s first free kick in from the left was well headed over his own crossbar by Bullen and from the corner Greg Shields had two clearances off the line. Labonte eventually cleared after a bit of a goalmouth melee.
Kisnorbo directed over a cross from the right that Bullen pinched off the head of De Vries but the next Hearts push was the bring about the winner. On the right side DE VRIES was presented with a shooting chance and he drove home from 20 yards. Gary Mason’s final challenge had played the ball on to the tall Hearts striker’s hand and the Dunfermline players made strong appeals to referee Kevin Toner but his mind was not to be altered.
Facing defeat Jimmy Calderwood threw caution to the wind. Bullen and Shields were left to guard the door while Dempsey and Tod were pushed upfront beside Hunt and Young. Byrne was thankfully back to thwart a Boyack break from inside his own half but after that neither side really looked like scoring.
In the 91st minute Weir’s shot rebounded off Stillie and De Vries missed the target with the follow up. The Pars left defeated but this was one of their better Tynecastle days. Andy Tod came in and showed that he is well worthy of a cup final place. Dempsey, Mason and Bullen again were amongst the best Dunfermline players but how the Pars will miss Greg Shields in two weeks time.