SPL v Hibernian
HIBERNIAN 1 DUNFERMLINE 2 Date: 21/12/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 9085, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Ian Fyfe, Weather: Extremely Cold 2C
After 41 years of failing to win a league match in Leith the Pars now can`t stop. Having taken a comfortable first half lead courtesy of two Craig Brewster goals, the 771 travelling supporters were given an anxious second half especially after Derek Riordan had got the Hibees back in the match with his 64th minute goal.
For only the second time this season Jimmy Calderwood went with an unchanged team selection. Hardly surprising following last Sunday`s fantastic victory over Rangers. Hibs made one change from the side that knocked Celtic out of the CIS Insurance Cup on Thursday, bringing back Colin Murdock in place of Jonothan Baillie.
The Pars kicked off defending the goal in front of their own fans. Play went straight to the other end and Murdock headed behind his own goal line to concede a corner within 15 seconds. The corner from the right was headed on target by Scott Wilson from the edge of the box. Keeper Andersson fisted it out when it would have been a better option to catch it. The ball only travelled as far as Stevie Crawford aboout six yards out and Craig BREWSTER stuck the ball in the net as he was presented with the early chance. Just 40 seconds on the clock and one up. Starts don`t get much better than that!
If it wasn`t for that eventful first minute Hibs first ten minutes were encouraging for their young team. Kevin Thomson swung in a free kick from the right after Darren Young was penailsed for using a hand but Wilson headed away the danger. Then Steven Whittaker sent over a cross from the right that ended up a shot at goal and Stillie had to beat a hasty backtrack to make a good save.
On the seventh minute a timely intervention whipped a Whittaker cross off the boot of the advancing O`Connor and the Edinburgh team looked likely to getr right back into the game. A Skerla ball was ficked into the path of Crawford by Brewster but the defence got the better of him. A Thomson free kick went straight to Stillie in the 13th minute and a O`Connor ball to Hill o` Beath boy, Scott Brown was cut out on the edge of the box Lee Bullen.
Whittaker sent McManus scurrying towards byeline on the right side of the penalty box from where he sent over a cross that Stillie gathered with ease. The Young brothers combined to grind out the Pars next chance when on 18 minutes Derek slipped the ball to Darren but he skied the shot from 25 yards out.
Brown was well wide at the other end when Thomson put McManus through and he in turn laid it off to the Hibs number 18. A quick Crawford throw in was headed on by Bullen to Brewster and when the Hibs defence failed to clear Barry Nicholson raced in at the far post to be stopped by Andersson who flattened the former Ger in the process.
A Skerla ball to Brewster caused more panic in the Hibs defence and Crawford got in to blast a shot from 10 yards out. Unfortunately the target was missed and so went with it the chance to double the lead. Craw was presented with another chance right after. Brewster knocked the ball back to Gary Mason and his ball through the middle sent the former Hibee through. Andersson came out and Stevie tried to chip him from 30 yards but the keeper was able to hold the shot.
Brewster headed a Nicholson free kick over the crossbar before play switched back to the Pars half. Scott Wilson headed away a Thomson free kick that he had conceded in a yellow card earning challenge on Garry O`Connor.
In the 35th minute the Pars hearts were racing after Thomson intercepted Skerla`s pass on the half way line and burst up the left. The youngstera angled ball into the box was only just ahead of O`Connor and Stillie went to ground to save.
Next minute a Scott Wilson pass up the centre of the park was headed on by Brewster to Crawford. He seemed to have alll the time in the world to hold the ball and roll it to the left for BREWSTER to send a wonderful shot into the top left corner of the net from 30 yards out. The best Dunfermline goal of the season so far, the ball swirling across the back of the net and out at the left side.
At two nil down McManus tried to make amends straight from the restart but his shot from just inside his own half was well wide of Stillie`s goal. The Pars support was on their feet and thoroughly enjoying another visit to Easter Road. "There is only one Craig Brewster" must have turned many a green stomach.
The big 37 year old striker was causing his old club all sorts of problems. After getting his shirt tugged by Doumbie right in front of the referee`s eyes. The free kick on the 18 yard line was touched by Brew to Barry Nick but McMauns blocked the shot with the ball breaking to Mason whose formly struck shot was off target.
Half Time 0-2
Hibs were out early for the second half but the extra chilling almost caught them cold again at the start of this half too. A poor back pass allowed Brewster the opportunity to take the direct route to goal but Doumbie earned a yellow card after only ten seconds of the half when he crudely dumped Brewster. Nicholson`s free kick was cleared by Gary Smith.
In the 49th minute Crawford got the better of Murdock and set up Brewster with a shot from 25 yards that just cleared the crossbar. Two minutes later a great lay off from Brew sent Crawford off on a run from midway across to the right where he played the ball off Derek Young before shooting from the edge of the box. His shot was deflected for a corner.
A Brebner ball from the right was fired goalwards and appeared to come off the hand of Andy Tod. The referee correctly awarded no penalty and from the corner the Pars mounted a counter attack. DarrenYoung pushed through a ball for Nicholson the break away with and only a well timed Smith intervention stopped Barry increasing the lead.
Increasing Hibs pressure created a feeling that a goal was not far off. RIORDAN had caused problems down the left before he accepted a Whittaker cross from the right, off the head of Andrius Skerla and slotted it home at the far post with a left footed shot from 10 yards.
With 64 minutes on the clock was it possible that a two goal half time lead was going to be cancelled out in the same way as Motherwell had done at the end of November?
Hibs continued to press and Mason did well to cut out a Riordan ball to McManus at the edge of his own area. Brown tried a shot from 30 yards that brought a fine save out of Stillie. In the 74th minute Andy Tod`s challenge on O`Connor brought Hibs a free kick on the edge of the D just to the left of centre. Nicholson cleared as Riordan`s effort rebounded off the five man wall.
Craig Brewster was given a standing ovation by the Pars fans as he made way for Noel Hunt in the 75th minute. Hibs brought on Stephen Dobbie for McManus and the sub almost turned Bobby Williamson`s team`s fortunes when Wilson back pass was struck against him as Stillie cleared.
The Pars had taken up a five man defence as they clung on for victory. A Thomson corner heralded another Hibs penalty claim as Dobbie`s shot was deflected off the raised arm of Noel Hunt. With four minutes remaining a Doumbe ball went under the foot of Andy McDermott and Riordan surprised at the ball reaching him could only chip into Derek Stillie`s arms.
There was a third penalty appeal in the 89th minute when Riordan`s shot hit Scott Wilson`s hand but the referee was right up with play and waved it away. The two added minutes took an age and McDermott was yellow carded before Ian Fyfe`s whistle raised the cheer from the travelling support.
On another day maybe Hibs would have been awarded a penalty but you can only take what the referee gives. At the end of the day Brewster`s second goal was a worthy match winner. He will be a hard act to replace should Dunfermline not manage to reach an agreement over his new contract.
The three points put the Pars level on points with Hearts in third place. We were in the same place last Christmas but if this is to be sustained the regular post Yuletide dip in form will have to be avoided. An expensive entry cost at £20 but if the Pars continue to produce these wins at Easter Road there will be no shortage of takers.