SPL v Livingston
DUNFERMLINE 2 LIVINGSTON 2 Date: 03/01/04
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 5155, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Mike McCurry, Weather: Cool Dry 4C
For the second match running Dunfermline started a match looking for a win that would take them into third place in the SPL and just like last Saturday their ambitions were scuppered by opposition that raised their game to face the UEFA Cup pursuers.
The Pars showed tremendous spirit to come back from twice being behind and the three added minutes at the end of the second half were certainly more welcomed by the Pars support.
Skipper Scott Thomson was missing following his red card at Firhill last Saturday and Scott Wilson phoned in with the flu at 12.30 on match day. Andy Tod was re-instated to the starting line up and Andy McDermott was drafted in for one final chance to prove his worth on the final day of his 10 week contract. Craig Brewster was out with the shoulder injury collected against Thistle so Gary Dempsey came in with Derek Young partnering Stevie Crawford upfront.
Dunfermline kicked off defending the Norrie McCathie end and Livi keeper was the busier earlier on. Roddy McKenzie was out to clutch a Dempsey free kick from the left that was targeting Tod and Bullen. Stillie’s first involvement was to take a fourth minute goal kick after Burton O’Brien had smacked a Rubio flick wide of the left goalpost.
Derek Stillie had to be alert after David McNamee raced down the right onto the end of a Lee Makel pass to cut back for his strikers on the six yard box but the black shirted Pars keeper was first to the ball.
With eleven minutes gone Mason slipped a ball back to Bullen who launched a big ball into the penalty box that Barry Nicholson headed back square for Dempsey. While the Irishman wound up for an overhead kick, Manu Dorado nipped in to send the ball behind for a corner. Nicholson’s ball in from the right was looking for Skerla and Tod but when the ball broke to Derek Young all he could do was force another corner on the left. Dempsey’s daisycutter took the pressure off Livi.
Crawford broke clear of Oscar Rubio three minutes later but Marvyn Andrews presence was enough of a distraction for Derek Young to guide the ball wide left. Livi pushed forward again and ttok the lead after a fine Tod tackle sent Makel’s ball to Pasquinelli out for a throw in on the left. From the throw the Pars seemed to freeze Makel combined with Pasquinelli working his way into the left side of the Pars penalty box before cutting back a great ball for David McNAMEE to despatch into the Athletic net from 6 yards.
Livi got the lift and when Lilley crossed for Pasquinelli Stillie did well to hold the next ball. The Pars showed little mettle even though they were a goal down and in the quarter of an hour following the Livingston goal their only shout was a penalty appeal, waved away by Referee Mike McCurry, when Nicholson’s header to Dempsey was squared to Derek Young and the ex Don was toppled in the box as Rubio challenged.
In the 32nd minute Darren Young played a good ball for Crawford to control on the right side of the box but Rubio again blocked the shot. After two Rubio attempts to clear Nicholson’s corner the Pars were caught offside . It seemed as though the Pars had woken from their slumber and three minutes later a fine long through ball from Nicholson to Crawford was squared for Darren Young but McNamee was first to it and another corner was won on the right.
Nicholson’s flighted ball in to the top of the penalty box might have reached Andrius Skerla but for the interception of Oscar Rubio’s hand. No question – penalty kick. McNamee’s antics jostling with Crawford for the pole position to run in on the follow up delayed the execution. Barry NICHOLSON patiently kept his cool to hit the ball into the mid right of the goal as he sent McKenzie the wrong way. A bit of a late Christmas present from Rubio but gratefully received nonetheless. 1-1 with 36 minutes gone and still 1-1 at the break as no further goalmouth incidents came from the remainder of a first half that wasn’t one of Dunfermline’s best.
The second half was much improved for the Pars. As the Pars strips began to gleam under the floodlights with dusk falling, those occupying the strips seemed to come to life. Derek Young’s ball into the left side of the penalty box gave Stevie Crawford an early chance than rolled wide of the right post.
Darren Young played a ball off his brother to Crawford but this time the keeper was the problem. McDermott sent a ball up to the right corner flag that Nicholson did extremely well to first keep in and then cross for Dempsey who was just an inch or two too short to do any damage.
The second half was only six minutes old when Dempsey found Crawford on the left, he looked up and saw Darren Young unmarked 25 yards out. He accepted the shooting opportunity but the shot went narrowly wide of the left goalpost. A Crawford chip towards Bullen was headed out for a corner and Dempsey’s cross ball flew through the six yard box missing players from both sides.
First McAllister, picking up a yellow card in the process and then Rubio conceded free kicks on the right side 25 yards out. Nicholson took them both sending the first in for Andy Tod whose flick was not enpough to beat McKenzie and then hitting the sidenetting with the second.
The East End crowd began to roar as Lee Bullen pushed forward in the 57th minute. His ball in for Derek Young was touched back to Gary Dempsey but his shott was high into the Norrie Stand. Crawford almost capitalised on a Makel mistake with a quick turn and shot but he too cleared the crossbar.
Davie Hay brought on David Fernandez for Rubio adjusting his formation to put three men up. The substitute turned Livingston`s fortunes. Immediately he threatened down the right and within three minutes of coming on supplied the pass that restore the visitors lead. A Derek Stillie clearance was headed down the right wing by Andrews. Fernandez picked out Makel as he burst through into the box and the Englishman powered passed Andy McDermott to shoot in Livingston`s second goal of the match.
The Pars almost went two behind only three minutes later when Dempsey lost possession to O`Brien on half way and his pass sent Fernandez speeding through the middle with just the keeper to beat. McDermott got back and put in a great tackle that certainly saved the day for Dunfermline. Instead the 69th substitution of Hunt for McDermott was eventually to pay dividends and the taunts from the 487 Livi strong support of "Who are you?" would soon come back to haunt them.
With Hunt`s introduction JC pushed four men upfront with Nicholson joining the sub alongside Young and Crawford. Davie Hay wasn`t to be surprised at the Calderwood tactic and retained his three men in attack. All this made for an exciting finale where the West Lothian side came very close to polishing us off.
Makel got a breakaway in the 72nd minute leaving Andy Tod in his slipstream before aiming a shot at Stillie that was parried out to Lee Bullen and then headed into the keeper`s hands. Five minutes later the same player, who would have to be their Man of the Match, hit the outside of the Pars left post from a 22 yard free kick.
Livingston were looking extremely dangerous and yet the Pars failed to come up with moves that created much danger of their own. Then out of the blue Noel Hunt out jumped Marvyn Andrews for a long ball and the ball broke to Stevie CRAWFORD who stroked the ball passed McKenzie.
The goal coming with ten minutes remaining meant that the home fans egged their team on for a fast, furious and frantic final stages. Nicholson went up the right to set up Derek Young with a shot he placed in the sidenetting. Dempsey had a good on target shot blocked while at the other end Barry Nicholson got back for an absolutely brilliant tackle on Pasquinelli on the edge of the box.
In the 92nd minute Darren Young`s ball to Dempsey was put behind for a corner and Dorado conceded another corner. Livi survived that but Grondin returned the ball via Crawford to Young and there were more appeals for a penalty as Andy Tod challenged. In the end a draw was possibly a fair result but let`s hope DA can get back to their winning ways next Saturday when Dundee United arrive in the Scottish Cup. Craig Brewster was certainly missed though Hunt with his "Zebedee" spring could provide the magic if Brew`s injury prevails.