SPL v Motherwell
DUNFERMLINE 3 MOTHERWELL 0 Date: 24/04/04
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 4290, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: John Underhill, Weather: Sunny 17ºC
Dunfermline’s comprehensive 3-0 victory over Motherwell, their best SPL win of the season will go a long way to settling fourth place at least. Although third has not yet been conceded, fourth would be the Pars highest ever finish in the SPL and with 50 points Jimmy Calderwood’s side have set a new record for the number of points collected in the top flight. So another sixties record falls since that record has stood for 39 years when the Pars third place behind Kilmarnock and Hearts in season 1964-65.
With Scott Wilson and Craig Brewster out with injuries sustained in the Semi Final Replay the starting line up had room for the return of Greg Shields and Richie Byrne. Motherwell made two changes from the side that defeated the Pars 9 days ago – Marshall and O’Donnell went out and Corr and Wright came in.
Stadium Announcer Alex Mill roused the crowd as he asked the Pars fans to welcome the Scottish Cup Finalists who kicked off towards the ‘Well support in the East Stand. A fourth minute was headed wide by Andrius Skerla before the visitors called on Derek Stillie to gather a Wright shot from a Craig shot.
Gary Dempsey sent Bullen up the left wing. When Bully lost possession he quickly won back the ball and returned the ball to the Irishman but meeting the central ‘Well defence the attack stuttered out and the defence won the battle.
In the 11th minute Steven Craig left Shields on his heels as he sped down their left channel but his subsequent delivery in was easily held by the Pars keeper although it didn’t really matter since he had crossed the byeline before centring. Play was quickly back at the other end with Derek Young winning a corner off Craigan. Dempsey again took the corner from the left feeding it to the unmarked Lee Bullen who shot from well out on the left to test Corr.
When Wright got around Byrne deep on the right, the young centre back must have been relieved to see his partner Skerla cut out the pass on the edge of the six yard box ahead of the waiting Jason Dair. Steven Hammell’s corner from the right was headed behind by Bullen for another on the left. Stillie failed to hold this one but Bullen’s ball to Crawford set up a break that required Craigan to be at his best to stop the move on the edge of his own D.
Winning the ball off Dair Dempsey almost put Derek Young in with a chance on 25 minutes but again Craigan was there to ease the ball but to his keeper. Next minute Bullen picked out Dempsey in a central area. His pass to Crawford was laid back to Nicholson was hit high and wide from 25 yards.
The visitors replied with Alex Burns sending the ball wide to Quinn on the right side and Byrne’s close attentions were just enough to take the shine off Wright’s shot as he tried to score from an angle 12 yards out. Latching on to a knock forward Dempsey whacked in a shot from 30 yards out that hit the base of the right post, travelled across the goal and dropped out for a goal kick. Corr looked on in bewilderment and he knew he had been very lucky. Dunfermline were looking good and a number of well placed passes involving Bullen, Crawford and Dempsey created even more pressure.
This pressure eventually brought the opener in 36 minutes. Dempsey’s early ball out to Crawford on the left wing drew the visitor’s defence out towards him leaving NICHOLSON space to accept the striker’s excellent cut back and score from 8 yards. Four minutes later Darren Young’s shot from 35 yards struck hit the right upright behind the goal supporting the net.
Dempsey sent yet another good pass forward for Derek Young to race on to. Young’s progress up the right was halted with a very good Martyn Corrigan tackle. Before the half time whistle arrived Dair and Adams put Burns in position on the right wing to fire a good ball across the box but it travelled straight through and out for a throw on the far side. This summed up Motherwell’s first half performance. They had manufactured no real threat, they had managed three shots on target but had never endangered Stillie’s shut out.
Athletic might have increased their lead in the third minute of the second half. Crawford escaped the marking of Hammell from a Barry Nicholson’s quickly taken free kick but Derek Young hoisted his shot into the McCathie Stand. At the other end a Shields attempted clearance from a Burns cross also reached for the skies but Stillie took charge of receiving the ‘Garry Owen’.
Gary Dempsey was having a first class match and was rewarded with his second goal of the season in the 52nd minute. Play had quickly switched to the Motherwell end and when Stevie Crawford laid back the ball to the Irishman, he evaded the challenge of Paul Quinn to strike from 18 yards. DEMPSEY’S shot entered the net off the right goalpost to cause him to enter into an East End Park version of an Irish Jig. Now 2-0 up the Pars were well in control and really Motherwell’s match was over.
When Barry John Corr spilled Gary Mason’s 25 yard drive just two minutes later, Derek Young was desperately unlucky not to net on the follow up. The nearest Motherwell came was a Craig shot into the right side netting as Byrne ably put the Motherwell player off with a discrete tug to the jersey.
Craig was bitterly disappointed just six minutes later in the 69th minute when he failed to get his head on an excellent pass across the six yard box that Alex Burns put in from the right. Five minutes later the visitors paid for that when the Pars increased their lead to 3-0.
A perfect cushioned header from Dempsey sent Bullen up the left wing and his cross looked possibly too low but when Crawford missed it, Derek YOUNG was well placed to slot into the right side of the goal and launch into yet another novel goal celebration.
Derek had obviously had his eye on the Euro celebration sombreros sported by the home supporters in the North West Stand. He was adorned with a red version and this time the scorer’s dance would have been more appropriately accompanied by Viva Espana.
So this was Viva Dunfermline and how the home support enjoyed this resounding victory. Motherwell never really looked like scoring. Wright had a chance six minutes from time that was stopped by Stillie and three minutes later Burns supplied substitute David Clarkson with a shooting chance from 35 yards but his shot was wide to the right of goal.
In the end it was a comfortable victory and Motherwell seemed to be content just merely to be playing their last five matches of this SPL season in the top six. For Dunfermline the filip of reaching the Cup Final seemed to bring the best out of their players. Dempsey and Bullen, so often relegated to the U21’s, displayed a nice understanding that would do their potential Hampden appearances no harm. Stand-in centre half Richie Byrne registered his ability and yet again Barry Nicholson showed the class that surely Berti Vogts cannot continue to ignore.