SPL v Motherwell
MOTHERWELL 2 DUNFERMLINE 2 Date: 25/11/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 4220, Kick Off: 19:45
Referee: Alan Freeland, Weather: Dry 6C
The great comeback by the Steelmen from being two down was described by their manager Terry Butcher as being "like a victory". Goals by Stevie Crawford and Craig Brewster were cancelled out by Stephen Pearson and Martin Corrigan after the Pars had been in the driving seat.
Back on to the bench went Gary Dempsey and David Grondin making way for the return from injury of Andy Tod and Derek Young the latter getting his first start since 17th August.
A reasonable sized crowd of 4220 welcomed the teams on a cold but dry and still Lanarkshire evening; the armchair alternative of Champions League Celtic v Bayern Munich not winning over this fourth v fifth SPL encounter.
Motherwell kicked off towards the 400 or so Pars supporters in the away stand. The match had gone 60 seconds when Derek Adams fouled Craig Brewster 30 yards out on the left side. Scott Thomson took the free kick and sent a great right footed shot towards the top right corner of the net. Gordon Marshall dived and just managed to tip the ball over the crossbar.
The Pars were comfortable playing in the opposition half until a long ball almost caught out Derek Stillie. The Pars keeper started to come for the ball but then decide he wasn’t getting it. Steven Craig controlled it on the right touchline and then shot from 35 yards out. With Stillie scampering back Craig’s shot went three feet wide of the right goalpost.
Two minutes later a Craig shot was cleared away by Scott Wilson when a Motherwell goal looked extremely likely. The home side won two quick corners with Andy Tod conceding another off the first and then clearing the second. McDermott’s foul on Pearson out on the ‘Well left wing set up Adams with an inswinging free kick in the 12th minute that called upon Stillie to touch over Pearson’s header.
Then from being under all the pressure the Fifers came back and took a grip on the rest of the half. Crawford’s ball to Nicholson was sent out for a corner. Toddy was up for that but Nicholson’s ball in was just too high. Scott Wilson turned the back but this time ‘Well got it away.
Next Brewster fought off Corrigan and Craigan to send a dangerous ball in from the left touchline. Hammell headed over his own crossbar for yet another Pars corner. This time Darren Young miscued Nicholson`s cross but the ball soon found its way to Scott Thomson on the left who burst into the box and tried a shot. It looked good until a deflection took it on to Brewster then the right goalpost before coming back for Stevie CRAWFORD to send right footed into the top of the net.
Dunfermline kept coming forward with Derek Young`s cross providing Andy McDermott with the chance to drive through into the `Well box. The travelling support were in full song in stark contrast to the locals silence.
Lifted by the goal the Pars were in command. Crawford made a fine run from inside his own half after receiving a pass from the opposition. He burst up the left and layed off a ball to Derek Young that was sent early into the box for Brewster but his volley from 8 yards went three feet over the bar.
Derek Adams reminded us that they were stll around with a right footed shot that Stillie saved well and the same player sent a free kick six feet wide of the left hand post after McDermott had fouled Craig.
Former Par Scott Leitch sent a perfect pass to Barry Nicholson who shot from 25 yards but was well wide of the left goalpost.
A foul on Brewster set up a free kick that Scott Thomson sent right-footed in the direction of Tod. Crawford accepted the flick-on, driving the ball against the left upright and Craig BREWSTER drilled a left-footed shot into the bottom right corner from eight yards.
Sadly, that was the last contribution from the veteran striker as he had suffered one foul too many and required to be substituted by Billy Mehmet. Brew went off to a standing ovation from the travelling support.
The second half came as a bit of a shock to the Pars fans. The first forty-five had seen their team at the far end of the pitch and unfortunately play continued at the far end in the second half. The fluency and confidence that Dunfermline finished the first half with failed to reappear after the break.
Despite losing their skipper Scott Leitch after only two minutes with a dislocated shoulder, Motherwell totally dominated the second half. Clarkson and Craig gave Tod and Wilson plenty to do. A Derek Young foul on Keith Lapsley awarded Motherwell a free kick just outside the box in the 59th minute and when McDermott headed the effort wide for a corner, Stillie and Wilson almost came to blows over some aspect of the defence.
Three minutes later, Clarkson fed the ball out to Stephen Pearson whose cross was stopped by Stillie and then booted away by Tod. Next, Pearson floated the ball across the face of the goal and out the right side for a goal kick.
In the 63rd minute Motherwell substitute Jason Dair shot over the bar from 15 yards after Pearson and Adams had combined to provide the chance. Next minute Pearson was pushing forward again and might have opened Motherwell`s account had he not mis-kicked at the crucial moment and Tod cleared.
It was all Motherwell and they were coming forward like a basketball team. Clarkson` s right-footed shot from the left of the area was headed away by Tod but in the 70th minute a slip-up by the big Kelty man led to PEARSON sending a low drive from 20 yards into the bottom right of the net. It wasn`t Toddy`s fault, he slipped on the surface after being passed a difficult square ball from Barry Nicholson.
It was a goal that had been coming for 25 minutes and the Pars support could only hope that Motherwell would find no more openings. That, however, was going to be difficult since Motherwell continued to pour forward urged on by a home crowd who had no intentions of leaving while the game was so heavily in their favour.
Tod dispatched a useful Corrigan cross for a corner from which Craigan headed over the bar. Two minutes later in the 78th minute, Alex Burns broke down the left and crossed for Clarkson to head back for Pearson, but fortunately for the Pars the recently capped youngster failed to connect.
The home team were fighting for everything and when the ball broke off Nicholson onto Hammell`s hand, both Hammell and Clarkson were yellow carded for complaining too much at referee Alan Freeman`s decision. Egged on the by home support, Craigan drove forward as the Pars dropped back, allowing the Well No.5 to pop a shot from 35 yards out that skimmed off the top of the net.
The 90th minute brought a free kick on the edge of the Pars penalty area. Alex Burns beat the four man wall, but Derek Stillie dived to his left to save the shot. Referee Freeland ordered the free kick to be taken again and yellow carded Andy Tod for coming out too soon. Burns` second attempt broke off the wall and Motherwell won another corner.
Adams took the corner and Clarkson met it three yards out at the near post. A deflection took it for yet another corner which the Pars survived. The three minutes of added time were coming to a close when Hammell crossed the ball from the left. Martin CORRIGAN met the cross at the near post and headed into the bottom right of the goal. After 47 minutes and 20 seconds of the second half the teams were back on level terms.
The home fans were delirious with delight and had barely settled down in their seats when the referee blew for full time. It was the proverbial game of two halves with Dunfermline playing some good attacking football for the first 45 and then attempting to play good defensive football for the second 45. They almost got a result out of all that. The second half was not pretty but three points would have been very acceptable.
Instead, the teams share the points. A result which Jimmy Calderwood would possibly have settled for before the game.