SPL v Kilmarnock
KILMARNOCK 1 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 17/01/04
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 5715, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Willie Young, Weather: Sunny 3C
Two changes were made to the Cup side from last Saturday. A win would take the Pars level on points with Hearts who were not facing Celtic until the following day. Andy Tod and Aaron Labonte came in and Derek Young and Gary Dempsey found themselves on the bench for the match against the SPL side with the worst goals against tally so far. Dunfermline kicked off into the low winter sun although it didn`t cause a problem on the park until late in the half.
In the fourth minute Killie gifted possession to Barry Nicholson who created the first chance of the game. His cross found Stevie Crawford on the edge of the box and the 30 year-old Pars striker turned away from goal before turning back in with a shot that sneaked wide to the right.
The white patches on the pitch made the players on both sides tread initially like barefoot on ice. The home team also found it more difficult to get their passing going it taking them seven minutes before ex Par Colin Nish set up Gary McSwegan with a shot from distance that was easily dealt with by Derek Stillie. At the other end a Darren Young snap from outside the penalty box also failed to trouble the scoreline.
Gordon Greer sent McSwegan up the right and when he passed wide to Fowler a ball sent in from the corner flag was inviting for Rhian Dodds but the Pars defence survived. Then in the tenth minute Dodds through ball for McSwegan needed the double challenge of Skerla and Tod plus a Derek Stillie parry to keep the Ayrshire men out.
As the travelling support of around 400 moved lower in the stand to get the sun out of their eyes Willie Young shone a yellow card at Freddie Dindeleux for a tug on Crawford`s shirt. Brewster was on the end of a Labonte ball swung in from the left but the newly crowned SPL Player of the Month for December headed into Dubourdeau`s hands from 6 yards.
Four minutes later in the 21st some Brewster magic on the edge of the D found Crawford but his first time shot was turned around the post by the Killie minder. Darren Young`s inswinger was beat out only as far as Nicholson who shot from just outside the box. His shot was flicked on by Brewster but Greg Shields was right in line to deflect away a well made chance.
Having survived the Pars pressure Kille produced a spell of possession as they pushed up. Scott Thomson scooped away a McSwegan cross and then after Greer picked out Fowler on the right wing McSwegan sent the delivery over the crossbar.
The danger signals were there and in the 29th minute Kilmarnock took the lead from a Gary McSWEGAN penalty. Labonte lost possession as he tried to work his way out of defence and the ball was quickly sent high into the left side of the box where Nish controlled it well and tried to get around Andrius Skerla. Unfortunately the Lithuanian used a hand as the Killie striker advanced and there was no dispute over Willie Young`s decision. Derek Stillie went to his right but the ball went to the other side. One nil Killie.
Captain Thomson tried to rally his troops driving down the left to send over a good ball from the byeline that his opposite number Stevie Fulton headed behind for another corner. Despite touches from Nicholson, Wilson, Crawford and Mason nothing could be gained and again play switched to the other end.
Andy Tod concluded Jamie Fowler`s speedy break down the right conceding a corner that Stillie fisted away. Barry Nich broke away and the ball was worked to Brewster via Thomson but his pass got driven against Nicholson and Killie got off the hook to a drone from the Pars fans.
The half finished with another Crawford shot at the keeper when Stillie`s long ball was touched along by Brewster. The half time deficit was worrying; Kilmarnock had a lead and the Pars luck looked very absent. The second half would need improvement if the third SPL place that Dunfermline eyed before the match was going to materialise.
The Fifers forced two quick second half corners when firstly Thomson drove into the left side of the box and then Nicholson won one on the other side. Andrius Skerla and Aaron Labonte stayed back to defend as the Pars mobbed the penalty box but the best that came was a Thomson header that was well wide to the right of goal.
A 52nd minute clash between Young and Dindeleux brought the physios sprinting on and although the apparent race caused the crowd great amusement it was goalmouth action they were really after. This quickly followed when Young played in Crawford who was fouled on the edge of the D as he tried to find Thomson. The Ayrshire side built an 8 man wall yet Scott Thomson managed a low ball through it that Dubourdeau just stopped diving to the foot of the right goalpost.
Nish supplied the home fans with action in the Pars box forcing a take out by Stillie as after Gary Locke`s pass to Fowler had evaded Scott Wilson`s lunge. Next minute after Nicholson was coaxed back on to his feet by an unusually concerned referee, the Dumfries born 25 year old made a swift recovery to send in a great ball that Thomson headed on target. The black and white supporters behind the goal leapt to their feet but Dubourdeau got down well to his right to produce yet another fine save from the Pars skipper.
A double save and remarkable miss proved to be a turning point in the game. There were 61 minutes gone when Greer looped in a shot frpom 25 yards out forcing Stillie to fling himself to his left and deflect the ball out to his right. Colin Nish collected and belted the ball back at goal with Stillie again beat it out and the rebound was headed over the bar by Gary McDonald when a goal looked unavoidable.
The rude awakening forced Tod to push up in his cavalier fashion. Leaving two defenders in a heap as they trierd to stop him he got within shooting distance but his curling shot landed on the roof of the net. Then two minutes later in the 64th minute the equaliser came.
This time it was Skerla who ventured forward to feed Thomson with a ball that he sent wide left for Labonte. The youngster`s cross ewas headed out only as far as Gary Mason. His shot bounced up off the pitch and Stevie CRAWFORD dived in to head low into the net.
The Kilmarnock defence appealed for offside but the flag stayed down and the Pars were right back in it. Killie might have re-established their lead the following minute as McSwegan burst through the centre playing the ball off Nish before releasing McDonald for a shot that cleared the crossbar as Stillie rushed out.
Both sides could have got the winner. A Darren Young shot was re-directed by Greg Shields head after Labonte and Brewster had made an opening. Crawford tried to pick out Nicholson deep in the box but Fowler conceded a further corner. Young crossed for Brewster to try a glancing shot but well wide.
Killie fans were reminding their team "you`re supposed to be at home" as they became agitated by the Pars territorial advantage. A Labonte challenge was cruelly judged illegal and gave Killie a free kick on the right angle of the box. Locke swung in a ball that won a corner and the ball bobbled around the box from that until Nicholson sliced away.
With nine minutes remaining Greer and Fowler provided a chance for Killie sub Danny Invincible and Stillie pulled off another good save. Next minute Brewster blasted a chance narrowly wide and high following a rapid Derek Young run all the way up the right wing.
Brewster had a header effort blocked and Derek Young shot into the sidenetting. Invincible and Boyd set up for McSwegan to shoot wide and the visitors built a seven man wall across the penalty box to deflect a Fulton free kick for a corner.
In the end it was one goal and one point each. To be a goal down at the interval was disappointing but the second half was much more entertaining. A draw was probably a fair result in the end but Barry Nicholson in particular tried very hard to earn the Pars more. Derek Stillie was the DA Man of the Match; his double save and numerous others kept the Pars in the game.