SPL v Livingston
LIVINGSTON 0 DUNFERMLINE 0 Date: 27/03/04
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 3558, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Ian Brines, Weather: Dry 12C
The fourth draw in the last five meetings between these clubs did little to boost either sides Semi Final hopes. Goalmouth incidents were few and a goalless draw would possibly please Davie Hay more than it did Jimmy Calderwood and his players.
The Pars made two changes from the side comprehensively beaten at Ibrox in midweek. Andy Tod and Aaron Labonte went back on to the bench as Craig Brewster and Richie Byrne returned. Livingston kicked off towards the empty north stand and within 15 seconds Derek Stillie was called upon to gather a Byrne header after a lofty ball into the Pars box.
In contrast it was time before the visitors gave Roddy McKenzie something to do. That was just a goal kick after Crawford`s ball to Byrne was crossed from the left to land on the top of the net in the fifth minute. It took ten more minutes for any further danger to the scoreline when Mason sent the ball right for Nicholson and although the cross was defended on to Rubio the Livingston defence cleared without any problems.
The Pars kept up the pressure with a Nicholson ball in from the right that Shields flicked on in the direction of Brewster but Livvy stepped in to put an end to that.
Livingston`s best chance of the first half resulted from a long ball played over Greg Shields for David Fernandez to collect on the left and then force Stillie into a good save from his fierce shot. Andrius Skerla headed away the corner kick.
In the 21st minute Oscar Rubio`s tackle on Brewster allowed Darren Young to float over a free kick from the left. Scott Wilson and Craig Brewster got a touch before skipper Barry Nicholson had his shot deflected wide right for a corner.
Craig Brewster took the corner and Wilson`s header looked net bound until McKenzie touched it to his right and substitute Jon Paul McGovern headed the ball off the line. The threat of Fernadez was then quashed by good play from Mason and Shields before play switched back to the other end with Rubio`s foul on Crawford giving Darren Young yet another chance to find the target men in the box. This time the ball was defended out to Derek Young and then Nicholson laid it back for Shields to fire in a low shot that Mckenzie held.
Livingston were not wholly tied down in their own half and on the half hour a Rubio ball to Brittain was directed into the Pars penalty area for Skerla to head away. Rubio got a lecture from Referee Brines for yet another hefty tackle and Nicholson sent in a low free kick that Skerla lost to Andrews and the keeper collected.
Dunfermline then had another good chance to break the deadlock. Makel`s push on Mason earned a free kick just 20 yards out. Brewster fired the ball into the five man wall before drilling through the rebound but McKenzie made a diving save from the striker`s right boot and another corner was awarded.
Wilson turned the corner kick back towards Skerla but he was penalised for his challenge and that was the last danger of the half at the Livingston end. The penalty for not capitalising from their pressure almost got dealt out three minutes from the interval. Firstly a good movement from Brittain, through Makel to Fernandez was firmly met by McGovern and with Stillie beaten Skerla made a remarkable clearance off the line.
The second 45 started promptly but the urgency wasn`t mirrored in the play. Eight minutes had passed before the pen was required to record Darren Young`s pass for Nicholson to centre and Derek Young test the keeper with a header. McGovern had anotheer effort for Livvy but the ball broke off Derek Lilley and then Brewster had a go that McAllister blocked.
The Lions did little roaring playing for most of the time with nine men behind the ball. Dunfermline were getting closed down in midfield and there was nothing coming from anything that got near the goalmouth.
With Gary Dempsey coming on for Byrne midway through the half under instruction to "buzz about and make something happen" the sub received a good ball from Mason that he was able to feed through for Brewster but Rubio denied the Pars man of his ninth goal of the season.
Billy Mehmet came on for Mason in the 76th minute and his first touch was to send Nicholson`s corner from the right over the crossbar as he latched on to Scott Wilson`s header. Two minutes later David Fernandez was too high with his looping shot and then a Dempsey corner was headed clear by Marvin Andrews who clashed with Wilson in the process forcing Jimmy Calderwood to throw on Andy Tod as a replacement eight minutes from time.
Livingston continued to look for the counterattack and in the 87th minute McGovern accepted the ball from Makel on the right wing to send to flashing through the Pars six yard box that McMenamin was never getting to even though he tried to fist it home. McGovern then pumped a ball through the middle for McMenamin but Stillie raced 25 yards out from his goal to clear.
Livingston final push saw O`Brien break into the left side of the box on the end of a Brittain ball and Skerla conceded another corner. Andrews was up leaping about the box in a desperate attempt to get a winner but eventually Shields shepherded the ball back to Stillie.
The Pars used three added minutes to exert further pressure on Livingston. Brewster and Crawford fired over corner kicks but the Lions defence held strong with Andrews playing the part of King of the Lions. No goals and one point each from a match that was no great spectacle.
For the Pars Andrius Skerla had a fine performance, Gary Mason put in a power of work but the lack goals has to be a concern. Four goals from the last eight SPL matches is hardly going to worry many future opponents.