SPL v Rangers
DUNFERMLINE 2 RANGERS 0 Date: 14/12/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 8599, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: A Freeland, Weather: Dry 7C
The 14th December 2003 will go down in history for sure. Jimmy Calderwood`s team defeated Rangers at East End Park for the first time in 33 years and ,, oh yes, Saddam Hussein was captured. The great man, Calderwood that is, hinted in his Programme notes that this might be a day to remember and how right he was.
Dancing in the streets of the Auld Grey Toun didn`t quite come up to Baghdad standards but there was great joy. Having taken an early lead it always looked like quite a prophecy. Rangers travelled to East End Park unbeaten away from home in this season’s SPL. The Pars made one change from the side that defeated Hearts last time out with Lee Bullen being preferred to David Grondin as they tried yet again to find the find the win that has been as elusive as the Iraqi leader.
Dunfermline immediately put Rangers under pressure with Stefan Klos forced to tip over his crossbar a Gary Mason shot from the right side. Gary did well to latch on to a Darren Young header and burst through into the Rangers box before looping a shot to the far post.
The early play saw the Pars control the midfield and with only 4 minutes and 8 seconds gone Dunfermline opened the scoring with a familiar move. Derek Stillie launched a high ball from a free kick into the opposition half. Craig Brewster rose to win a flick on against Michael Ball expertly finding his striking partner, Stevie CRAWFORD who met the quality with his finish and despatched the ball into the net from 16 yards.
Craw was through again in the 7th minute but this time the shot went straight to Klos. Fernando Ricksen took out Lee Bullen with an off the ball challenge but referee Alan Freeland let play continue.
Two minutes later Rangers were awarded a free kick 25 yards out on the right. Ball lifted the ball over the four man wall, over the bar and on to the trackside. Craw fired another at Klos after Darren Young’s cross into the box for Andy Tod was headed out to the striker on the edge of the box.
Chris Burke sent a through ball that had Stillie scampering out to try and put off Lovenkrands. Fortunately the back-tracking Barry Nicholson was there to cut out the danger and let the defence find touch with the booted clearance. Next Rangers got another free kick on the right again 25 yards out and when Burke threaded a good ball to the near post it was Scott Wilson who cleared it off the six yard line as Bob Malcolm looked to be in.
The Fifers displayed good possession skills in building up the next chance which eventually saw Nicholson cross from the right touchline for Brewster at the far post but the big man’s header slipped wide left.
Rangers responded with Peter Lovenkrands finding Burke on the right. The young Ger beat off Derek Young and shot over the crossbar as Bullen closed him down. Play switched quickly to the other end and Paulo Vanoli clumsily hauled down Nicholson on the right just 15 yards our from the corner flag. Barry swung over the free kick but the ball evaded everyone on its way through to Bullen on the left flank. There was some untidy Rangers defending before the ball fell to Mason who struck the ball firmly into the centre of the Rangers penalty box. Andy Tod was on the receiving end but unluckily he could not control it to send in number two.
A second Ricksen body check, this time on Crawford brought him a lecture from the referee but he was obviously less that complimentary on the referee’s words and was shown yellow for one too many of his own. The free kick was sent high into the box by Darren Young but Tod was penalised for leaning over Capucho in his attempts to reach the ball.
In the thirty first minute Ricksen showed the better side of his game to beat Skerla and then shoot off Wilson to win a corner. The corner from the left was headed out as far as Ricksen but the defence drove his long range shot away.
Ten minutes from the interval another Stillie long ball was headed on by Brewster for Crawford but the top goalscorer shot softly at the keeper. A Mason free kick picked out Tod on the right side of the Rangers box and Brewster couldn’t convert the knock on no doubt put off by the tug on the shirt from Henning Berg.
Half Time 1-0Dunfermline got the second half underway kicking off in the direction of the McCathie Stand. Rangers brought on Egil Ostenstad for Capucho at half time and upped the pace for the second half. A Vanoli free kick from the right touchline was defended by Skerla and Bullen got the ball away. Lovenkrands and Mols threatened before a Burke cross was headed out by Bullen and from the corner on the right Berg seemed taken by surprise when he got a header at the far post.
Immediately a Burke cross from the left was headed out only as far as Mols but the Dutchman shot straight into the keeper’s hands. There was a slight release of pressure on the Pars defence when Crawford ran into Berg on the left. The free kick from Darren Young was directed to Tod but the Gers defence headed away first.
In the 65th minute Rangers fourth corner was played deep into the six yard box and the ball broke to Hughes on the edge of the box. His shot was blocked and when Ricksen powered in the return another corner was conceded. This time Stillie punched away the cross and Ricksen fired the ball wildly into his supporters.
Gary Dempsey was introduced for Derek Young in the 66th minute and Arveladze for Michael Mols with 18 minutes remaining. Another Burke cross was headed into Stillie by Lovenkrands before the Pars eased the pressure with a brief period of possession that cooled things down a bit.
The travelling support was roused by three Arveladze balls that almost brought Rangers a goal. The first from the edge of the centre circle sent Lovenkrands through on the right and Stillie and Bullen were good enough to force it out for a corner. Next Arveldaze almost put Lovenkrands away again, then Skerla cut out a ball to Burke that looked like the Gers all the way.
Noel Hunt came on for Craig Brewster but still Rangers came at the Pars. Down the left wing went Vanoli taking a pass from Burke and throwing over a cross that Arveladze met in the centre but deflected wide right for another corner. Vanoli’s corner was yet again fisted away by Stillie.
Rangers pressure grew more intense. Stillie grabbed Burke’s cross from the left in the 82nd minute before in the following minute Rangers dramatically gifted Dunfermline an early Christmas present. A free kick into the left side of the box was headed square by Andy Tod. The ball came off the head of Fernando Ricksen on to the leg and hand of Paulo VANOLI and amid claims for a penalty the Rangers number 16 slotted the ball in at the bottom left corner of his own goal. Dunfermline 2-0!
The pitch might get the blame but really it was nothing to do with the pitch. The Pars weather a storm of a second half in which the back four of Skerla, Wilson, Tod and Bullen were immense. First league victory over the Ibrox side since March 1970. Victory at last for Jimmy Calderwood, sweet and well deserved success for the Eastenders.