SPL v Aberdeen
DUNFERMLINE 2 ABERDEEN 2 Date: 29/11/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 5294, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Ian Brines, Weather: Pouring rain 8C
On Tuesday it was Motherwell who came back from 2-0 down to the Pars, today it was the Pars who inflicted a similar feat on Aberdeen. Goals from Derek Young and Lee Bullen rescued the game and in the end the Pars were unlucky not to snatch a winner.
Andrius Skerla returned in place of Andy McDermott but that was the only changed from the side that played at Fir Park last time out. With rain cascading down Aberdeen kicked off defending the goal in front of their 2000 travelling supporters. It was the visitors who provided the first danger with a Chris Clark cross from the left being beaten away.
It took until the eight minute until Barry Nicholson took advantage of Stevie Crawford dropping back to avoid being caught offside. Baz broke through right of centre and maybe just prodded the ball too far into the Dons penalty box because when he shot from the angle of the six yard box David Preece was right on top of him and only a corner resulted.
Skipper Scott Thomson was next to shoot at goal but his 25 yard chip from a Craig Brewster lay off went over the bar. Aberdeen went up the park in the next minute. Morrison fed Zdrilic and put through Scott Booth to shoot from the left side of the box but his effort went out for a throw in front of the North West Stand. Referee Iain Brines did the Pars no favours when in the 14th minute Stevie Crawford latched on to a Craig Brewster header to race into the Aberdeen penalty box.
Despite the tugging from Kevin Rutkiewicz, Stevie managed to get a shot in on the keeper. Many a striker would have gone to ground and few would have disputed any penalty decision. The Aberdeen defender was very lucky to get away without conceding a penalty. Steven Tosh sent a ball into the Pars box that Andy Tod headed out only as far as the the edge from where Scott Booth widely blasted in a shot into the McCathie Stand.
Aberdeen continued to press with Chris Clark finding Zdrilic on the edge of the D. He rounded Wilson and teed up Booth with a shot at goal that fortunately hit the right side netting.
Midway through the first half a free kick awarded for a foul on Crawford was directed by Nicholson onto the head of Wilson, but Aberdeen Skipper Russell Anderson headed away. Two minutes later Wilson conceded a free kick for a foul on Clark 30 yards out, just to the left of centre. Clark took the free kick, sending it square to Eric DELOUMEAUX who sent a low shot skidding along the surface to beat Derek Stillie at his right hand post. This goal coming in the 24th minute ended Aberdeen’s run of 515 minutes of play in the SPL without a goal. Aberdeen’s last goal was scored at Rugby Park on 4th October.
Craig Brewster had a long range effort that cleared the crossbar two minutes later and he was on the end of a long ball from Stillie in the 29th minute that he sent on for Crawford, but the Scotland striker miscued and gave Preece an easy job to collect.
Markkus Heikinen sent Kevin McNaughton up the right wing from where he crossed a dangerous ball into the six yard box. Stillie tipped the ball away into the centre of his penalty box where luckily there were only Pars players.
Ten minutes from half time a Barry Nicholson free kick attempted to set up Wilson with a simple header into the net, but the Dons defence managed to concede only a corner. Nothing came of that but Scott Thomson picked up on the clearance and played a one-two off Derek Young to send a square ball across the penalty box, but unfortunately just behind Crawford. Thomson was involved again but this time with a passback for Stillie who gave everyone a fright by letting the ball run past him before producing a right-footed clearance.
Derek Young popped up on the right to cross in a useful ball towards the Aberdeen penalty spot. Crawford ran to the ball and dummied it, but the three players waiting behind him were all wearing red shirts.
In the 40th minute Lee Bullen came on for Scott Thomson who had strained his left thigh. There was great concern as Scott hobbled off that it may have been a recurrence of his ankle injury, but his right ankle was fine. The first half ended with two nervous moments for the Pars. In the 44th minute, Wilson lost out to Zdrilic on the edge of his D and Andrius Skerla stepped in to retrieve. Gary Mason took the ball away to be unceremoniously chopped down by the Australian internationalist. A yellow card was justifiably brandished by Iain Brines. Into the second minute of added time at the end of the first half, Deloumeaux fed Zdrilic a good ball but he skied it over the crossbar.
It hadn’t been the best first half as far as the Pars were concerned, but whatever the Manager said at half time had the desired effect on his team in the second half. Gary Mason was first to try a shot at goal, but his 48th minute effort looped well over the top. Then Mason played in Darren Young for a one-two with Brewster, but David Preece pulled off a great save to maintain a clean sheet. This was a real sign that the Pars had the confidence to penetrate the Pittodrie men’s so far resolute defence.
Aberdeen were certainly not out of it and when Tosh intercepted a Tod pass to Bullen, Booth got forward to feed Deloumeaux a shot that he fired on target to be parried away by Stillie. Dunfermline kept trying with Darren Young beating off Heikinen but his cross was too high for the in-rushing Bullen.
Andy Tod set up Crawford with a run up the right. Craw took the ball to the byeline and cut a good ball in looking for Brewster, but it was Skerla who popped up in the right position but unfortunately without the finishing qualities required. Aberdeen were now looking to capitilise on the counter-attack. Booth and Zdrilic combined to send in Tosh, who shot just wide from 25yards. Two minutes later, on the hour, BOOTH left Skerla behind to play a good ball off Zdrilic. He advanced into the right side of the Pars box, hitting the far side of the net.
The shock of going two goals down at fortress East End spurred an immediate reaction from the Pars players that reduced the deficit back to one goal within 80 seconds of Booth’s goal. Barry Nicholson sent in a perfect cross from the right wing that saw Derek YOUNG finish with a fine diving header on the penalty spot.
The Pars support immediately awoke to the possibility of a come-back and were encouraged when Gary Dempsey sent a ball through the Aberdeen defence for Crawford to take deep. Craw delayed too long, despite Brewster being well-positioned to receive a cross. The ball was worked back to Darren Young and then Nicholson who did cross, but was easily dealt with by the Dons defence.
In the 66th minute, Dempsey sent another fantastic ball in from the left, but Craig Brewster headed down from six yards only to see his effort saved by Preece. Dunfermline should have scored but with much more buzz around East End Park, there were great expectations that a second DA goal was not far off.
The 68th minute might have seen Crawford score after Derek Young had sent through a great through-ball but when one on one with the keeper, it was Preece who came out on top. Next, a Nicholson cross for Brewster brought a fine punching clearance from Preece. Derek Young had a shot deflected wide. A Dempsey ball for Brewster was deflected wide and Nicholson’s corner landed for Wilson but somehow the ball got stuck under his foot.
Goal number two duly arrived with the 74th minute. A good chest down by Brewster dropped for Lee BULLEN who drilled in with his left foot. The ball rocketed into the net, although Bully in his full and frank way, later admitted that his shot was merely a cross into the crowded six yard box.
Nine minutes from time, Bullen almost took the return from Brewster, but that was just too far, and Bully’s chances of Man of the Match had gone. Dempsey was next to combine with Brewster, but his shot was tipped away by Preece. Substitute Noel Hunt, playing in his first SPL match of the season, headed a Scott Wilson ball on to the post. His shot from the rebound was on target but Aberdeen cleared it off the line. Hopes of a Pars winner only got greater. Darren Young, Nicholson and Brewster linked up in a move that gave Crawford and 89th minute chance, but again he was blocked out.
In the third minute of added time, Darren Young’s ball for Brewster was just cut out and Noel Hunt almost provided the perfect finish but his ball across the six yard box was slid out by Deloumeaux before it could reach Stevie Crawford.
At two-nil down every Pars fan would have settled for a point. That point was duly salvaged, but there was still an air of disappointment at not clinching all three. For the neutral, it was a great match with the kind of excitement that should attract greater crowds. It was very disappointing that only 3294 Pars fans turned out to witness this afternoon’s entertainment. On an extremely wet day and it was particularly interesting to see that the all-weather surface performed extremely well in the wet conditions. The RAC Windscreen’s Man of the Match award went to Gary Mason but Aberdeen keeper David Preece was the man who made the difference to the final result.