SPL v Dundee
DUNFERMLINE 2 DUNDEE 0 Date: 22/11/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 5490, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Steve Conroy, Weather: Dry 8ºC
Dunfermline made four changes from the team dismantled at Celtic Park two weeks ago. Andrius Skerla suffered a groin strain in training on Friday that could see him miss the match at Motherwell as well. Labonte, Mehmet and Bullen all found themselves back on the bench as Nicholson, Dempsey, Grondin and Brewster returned.
Sammy the Tammy was joined by the Harry Potter magician, the Kingsgate dragon and an inflatable Santa for the pre match entertainment. Spells and messages to Santa might have been what the opponents were requiring but the Pars showed no season of goodwill towards Dundee as Stevie Crawford provided the Fifers with the fairytale finish.
Fabrizio Ravanelli kicked off with Dundee defending the goal in front of their 1224 travelling supporters. The Dundee fans were immediately behind their side encouraging them from the start and it looked like maybe today wasn’t the best of days to face the troubled Tayside opposition. Dunfermline managed to create the first chance, however, from a Barry Nicholson free kick on the right. Baz floated the ball over for Scott Wilson to head wide, left of goal from six yards.
Two minutes later David Grondin swung over a ball that Craig Brewster chested down on the edge of the box and although nothing came of that, Grondin returned the ball for Crawford to motor into the left side of the penalty box where Lee Wilkie stopped the ball with his hand, but there being no intent, referee Conroy waived play on.
Dundee were unmoved by the Pars attempts to break up the early fluency in their play In the seventh minute a free kick for Wilson’s challenge on Ravanelli was played to the far side of the six yard box for Juan Sara, arriving late, to head on goal. Fortunately, Gary Dempsey was behind Derek Stillie and the young Irishman cleared off the line.
The visitors continued to pose most of the threat helped by two short pass-backs from, the otherwise very solid, Andy McDermott and in the ninth minute a Ravanelli cross from the right was headed narrowly wide of the right goalpost. The Pars response was a move from Crawford to Darren Young, whose shot from just outside the box was deflected off the hand of a Dundee defender and blocked by Speroni. Brewster was in position to net but the flag was up for offside.
Ravanelli and Caballero played a one-two which ended with the Italian testing Derek Stillie from 20 yards out. Fortunately, the Pars keeper tipped the ball wide left and from the resulting corner, Lee Wilkie headed Gary Brady’s cross over the crossbar.
Dunfermline attacked again through Crawford who took advantage of a poor header back to Speroni to fire a shot across the six yard box from a difficult angle, but again wide of target. A promising move involving Brewster, Crawford and Dempsey allowed the latter to turn the ball back for Grondin on the edge of the box who unfortunately chose to shoot and blasted into the crowd when the option of Crawford and Nicholson in the penalty box would have been much better.
In the 20th minute Brewster dummied a ball from Young through to Grondin whose cross was met by Nicholson and Brewster netted but again he was in an offside position. The Pars lived dangerously six minutes later when Fabian Cabellero split the home defence to put Sara through on goals and the Dundee No.9 was body checked comprehensively and there would have been few complaints had a penalty been awarded.
At the other end Brewster was jeered by the Dundee fans when he took a wild shot from 30 yards out on a Crawford pass. This amused them considerably since they had been fired up by a bit of aggression between Lee Wilkie and Brew. Dundee had a couple of corners both taken by Brady that targeted Lee Wilkie, but Stillie and then McDermott snuffed out the problem. Wilkie’s presence in the Pars half won the ball back and sent Nacho Novo scurrying down the left wing to provide a ball into the six yard box which Derek Stillie read perfectly.
Douglas Cameron came on for Jonay Hernandez in the 37th minute after the Venezuelan suffered cut on the sidelines that was later to require five stitches. Gary Mason set up Nicholson for a blooter of a shot from well out which dipped too late to cause Dundee any problems. It was the 38th minute before Dunfermline won their first corner of the match as captain Barry Smith slid in to deny Gary Dempsey a goal from a fine Darren Young pass. The half finished with Caballero chipping the ball over Andy McDermott and sending a quality pass into the Pars penalty area, but Scott Thomson was right beside Novo and he cleverly let the ball through for Stillie to collect.
On the restart, the Pars were in complete control and almost provided the opener in the 50th minute when Grondin’s cross from the left picked out Nicholson at the far post, but Lee Mair tried to turn it out for a corner and Speroni dived to save it. Dundee failed to register the danger and in the 52nd minute went behind after good work from Craig Brewster shielding the ball away from Lee Wilkie, let Stevie CRAWFORD through into the box to blast a low shot in from 10 yards.
Dundee awoke to the danger of no points and within a minute Novo struck a fine shot from the angle on the right side of the penalty box which Derek Stillie saved at the second attempt. A Brady free kick again tried to find Wilkie, but Wilson was there to head it back to Stillie. Ravanelli and Caballero continued to torment the Pars defence but Ravanelli in particular seemed to be finding the experimental Pars pitch to be working against him.
In the 63rd minute, Nicholson appeared to be pulled down in the penalty box by Dundee substitute Douglas Cameron but all that was awarded was a throw-in in front of the Pars support in the North West Stand. Play continued in front of them and they were enraged when Ravanelli flattened Dempsey right before their eyes. Although play had moved on, referee Steve Conroy stopped play, yellow carded Ravanelli and awarded the Pars a free kick on the touchline.
From the free kick, Barry Nicholson floated in a perfect ball for Stevie CRAWFORD to meet and send a powerful header past the helpless Speroni. That really finished the game, Dundee’s heads went down, the Pars won good possession and when they did lose it, battled to regain the ball.
There were very few more goalscoring chances in the match. Eleven minutes from time a good run from Dempsey produced a fine switch left to Crawford in the penalty box, but before he could notch his hat-trick he was quickly closed down. The Pars defence soaked up everything that Dundee then tried and although the visitors won several free kicks, there was never any danger of the scoreline changing.
With six minutes to go, Jimmy Calderwood brought on Derek Young to replace Brewster to make his first appearance since 13th September. No doubt he will be back in the starting line-up before too long. Match sponsors, Stephens the Bakers, gave Stevie Crawford a well-warranted RAC Windscreens Man of the Match Award although Gary Dempsey and Scott Thomson must have run him close.