SPL v Dundee
DUNDEE 0 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 14/02/04
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 5643, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Stuart Dougall, Weather: Dry 8C
Although this was no St Valentine’s massacre the Pars now sorely love the Dark Blues opposition. In three SPL games this season Dunfermline have scored five goals, conceded none and taken all nine points. Another goal from Noel Hunt who has now scored in every match he has started this season (even if one of them only lasted 57 minutes) was enough give his side their fourth away win of the season.
Dunfermline travelled to Dundee for the second successive SPL away match seeking their first win on the road since beating Hibs on 21st December. Jimmy Calderwood made two changes from the team he put out against Celtic in midweek. Gary Dempsey came in for Derek Young and Richie Byrne for Andy Tod. Dundee, beaten 5-3 on Wednesday at Motherwell also made two changes Hutchison and Lovell winning Jim Duffy’s confidence.
The visitors kicked off attacking the goal immediately their six or seven hundred fans. Immediately the play was taken to Dundee with Young, Nicholson and Shields building up a move on the right. In fact the Pars midfield had all the early play and Dundee found it hard to get started. The biggest threat for Derek Stillie was passbacks from his own team mates.
In the sixth minute Scott Thomson got in the first shot of the game at the end of a seven pass move that featured Shields, Young, Nicholson and Hunt. Julian Speroni easily held the shot as it was drilled into his midrift.
The Dundee keeper has not been a favourite of the Athletic fans since Stevie Crawford was red carded in a tussle with the Argentinian and he disappointed them again in the eighth minute as he came out to grab a high ball in from Shields after another flowing build up through Byrne, Hunt and Nicholson. Next Barry Nic took a Young pass and thumped in a shot from 30 yards that went just over the bar.
DA kept up the pressure with Thomson playing the ball off Nicholson before he drove in a shot that bounced in front of Speroni and safely into his hands. It really was all Dunfermline and Hunt was next to take a Young pass on the edge of the box and force Speroni to dive out to collect.
Dundee had managed to get up the field in the 17th minute but almost got caught on the break as Hunt moved the ball swiftly from the centre circle to his striking partner on the right wing. Crawford turned the bal back to the midfield from where Nicholson crossed and Speroni had to save from the head of Noel Hunt.
Three minutes later the Pars should have opened the scoring. Byrne swung the ball over for Nicholson and as Hunt challenged in the centre of the penalty box the ball broke to Gary Dempsey. Half hearted, if that`s allowed on 14th February, is what it looked like as the Irishman tried a sidefooted shot that was easily blocked out.
Dundee’s hopes of getting anything out of the first half came firstly from a Brady corner that he put in from the right, but Andrius Skerla was making sure that there was no repeat of Wednesday’s nights failures with a powerful header away. This gave possession back to the Pars who continued the one-way traffic towards Dee’s goal. Having rounded Lee Mair, Noel Hunt decided to shoot instead of looking for Crawford who was free to his left and Noel’s shot rebounded off Tom Hutchinson for a corner.
On the half hour, Hunt had another good shot deflected for another corner on the right and when Nicholson delivered it was Skerla whose strong header narrowly cleared the crossbar. Dundee had had plenty of warnings and two minutes later the visitors duly scored. Barry Nic played the ball in the right to Darren Young who lifted it into the centre of the Dundee penalty area. Scott Thomson rose trying to get a touch but narrowly missed out letting it drop for Noel HUNT who managed to prod in as he fell backwards amongst a crowd of Dundee defenders.
Still more Pars pressure was exerted when Skerla’s backheeler gave Byrne a shooting chance that was deflected to Speroni. His grey shirted counterpart at the other end must have been getting cold and he was probably pleased that Kneissl gave him a cross to cut out ten minutes from half time. Barry Smith lofted a ball into the Pars box and Scott Wilson’s challenge on Kneissl had the home fans appealing for a penalty but it would have been very soft. The last action of the first half produced a melee from a Barrett free kick that Kneissl and Mackay fought for but Stillie was relieved to take the ball wide to the right of his goalpost.
The first half had been particularly one-sided and probably Dunfermline should have led by more than one goal. There was concern as Dundee started the second 45 a much more determined team. Barrett shot from the edge of the box and then Kneissl had a shot deflected to Stillie.
Dunfermline’s first real showing of the second half came in the 52nd minute when a Dempsey shot from a Young cross was deflected off Barry Smith for a corner. Skerla again headed the corner but this time at the keeper. On the hour Steve Lovell twice denied Byrne but then Dundee replied with a shot from substitute Mark Fotheringham that ended up in the stand.
Aaron Labonte came on for Richie Byrne, a straight replacement of the left side of the back four, really as precaution since the enthusiastic Irishman, making his first start, had picked up a yellow card only seven minutes earlier. Skerla was forced to concede a corner as Kneissl attacked down the left and Fotheringham sent in a ball that Lee Mair headed goalwards. Fortunately, Darren Young was just behind the line to stop the ball crossing.
Nacho Novo evaded the challenge of Shields to pop a shot from the edge of the box that cleared the crossbar. This raised the hopes of the home support who tried to encourage their team even further. Dunfermline were awarded a free kick for a foul on Crawford and when Thomson picked out Dempsey on the far side of the Dundee penalty area, the return cross just fell too far ahead of Crawford to get the second goal.
Time was running out for the Dark Blues and substitute Milne saw his cross saved by Stillie in the 76th minute. Two minutes later the Pars keeper had a fine save after Novo had taken a Brady pass and worked his way into a shooting position 20 yards out. Dunfermline were maybe not winning as much possession as they had grown accustom to, but they were certainly frustrating the home fans as they fought for every ball.
With three minutes left, Andy Tod came on for Hunt to receive a corner from the right but the ball broke off the Pars sub and behind for a goalkick. In the third minute of added time, Stevie Crawford broke away from Barry Smith but his ball was just too far ahead of Young and the keeper denied the Fifers a second goal.
A very satisfactory result in a match where Jimmy Calderwood’s side dominated and one in which the opposition rarely tested the Pars defence. The Irish triumvirate was the Pars stars as they collected three well won points and now sit only two points behind Hearts who take on Hibs in the Edinburgh derby on Sunday.