SPL v Kilmarnock
DUNFERMLINE 2 KILMARNOCK 3 Date: 18/10/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 4495, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Calum Murray, Weather: Dry, Sunny Intervals 9C
Following a three nil home defeat from Aberdeen, Kilmarnock came to East End Park without seven of their first team pool; their back three had not played together this season while Sean Dillon made his first appearance of the season and Englishman Rhian Dodds came in for his debut.
Jimmy Calderwood reacted to criticism of lack of creativity in his team by starting 4-4-2 meaning Captain Scott Thomson played on the right of a back four and David Grondin was brought back into the starting eleven at left back. Fans favourite Lee Bullen dropped to the bench to allow for the change of tactic.
Kilmarnock kicked off wearing their dark blue away strip attacking the goal in front of the Norrie McCathie Stand. The visitors almost suffered from the Pars new tactics when after just 90 seconds Barry Nicholson sent Scott Thomson up the right wing. He delivered a telling ball deep into the visitors six yard box and it was a shocked defence that scrambled a header back to keeper Francois Dubourdeau.
Jamie Fowler miskicked twice as Dunfermline pushed forward with Stevie Crawford collecting the ball to set up Sean Kilgannon with a fierce shot that rebounded off the keeper for a corner. Kilmarnock dealt easily with the threat as they did with another won by Kilgannon at the left corner flag. Barry McLaughlin was quick to react stealing the ball off Craig Brewster in the six yard box.
There was nine minutes on the clock when Grondin decided to step in and prevent the ball travelling back to Derek Stillie. The Frenchman launched a long ball from his 18 yard line which was played off the head of Craig Brewster onto Nicholson who cleverly set up Stevie Crawford. The centre forward shot at Dubourdeau and Killie got the ball away when really the move deserved much better.
Two minutes later Brewster fed Crawford with a good ball. The striker turned Greg Shields and shot from eight yards but was well wide to the right of goal with just the keeper to beat. The crowd’s reaction was as great as Crawford’s disappointment. Craw immediately had the opportunity to make amends when Thomson passed out right for Young and his cross picked out the Scottish internationalist on the far side of the box but unfortunately his control let him down.
Kilmarnock’s first real threat on Stillie’s goal was created by Shaun Dillon whose 1-2 with McSwegan produced a cross to the far post which Grondin was forced to head behind for a corner. The Pars defended that and a subsequent corner before play switched to the other end where Grondin picked out Kilgannon who headed wide from a suspiciously offside position.
As the sun came out in the 20th minute, Brewster played a Grondin throw in to Crawford who drove wide left. Three minutes later a long ball from Scott Wilson landed nicely for Crawford but he appeared to attempt to beat Sean Hessey three times before deciding to lay the ball back to the better placed Young who blasted high over the crossbar. Those missed chances predictably came back to haunt the home team when the opposition took the lead in the 25th minute.
Former Par, Greg Shields received the ball on the half way line and proceeded to the edge of the centre circle before releasing the ball to Gary McSWEGAN who played the ball off Kris Boyd to meet it on the edge of the Pars penalty box and smack it passed the helpless Stillie. Kilmarnock’s lead lasted only two and a half minutes. After a Grondin shot was deflected wide off Kilgannon, Craig Brewster was next in a promising position to lob a fine ball to his striking partner CRAWFORD, who beat the keeper from the edge of the box.
The Pars were unlucky not to take the lead in the 28th minute when yet another Grondin shot, this time from all of 30 yards was stopped by the keeper, although in truth the Pars No.22 was extremely unlucky because the keeper got in the way of the shot rather than saved it. Dunfermline played a patient game with plenty of possession. Skipper Thomson marshalled the assault as he buzzed about from side to side and it was he who teed up Young with an on-target shot that was deflected for a corner.
On the stroke of half time Stillie was called into making a fine parried save after another Dillon cross from the left rebounded off Grondin for Aussie Danny Invincible to take a pop at goal.
Dunfermline started the second half with great intent and the home support felt comfortable with the early pressure. A Crawford - Brewster move provided Nicholson with a chance at the far post and when he turned the ball back through the six yard box, Gary Mason was extremely unlucky not to connect.
In the 51st minute Nicholson went passed four Kilmarnock defenders as he made his way along the 18 yard line to allow Kilgannon a release on goal which appeared to come back off Crawford. As Thomson yet again drove forward, Darren Young was afforded another crack at goal which unfortunately went over the crossbar. Young then sent Crawford wide on the left and as he and Brewster played the ball back into the Kilmarnock penalty area the final ball was just too far in front of Mason.
Having been all Dunfermline, it took some great defending by Nicholson to deny Invincible after Boyd and Fowler had created a very good chance. Then, in the 55th minute, Nicholson provided Brewster with a ball that he played into the path of Stevie CRAWFORD. He broke through the penalty area with a characteristic turning move before dispatching the ball into the visitors net from six yards out.
On the hour, Dillon held off the challenge of Nicholson to etch out a shooting chance. He hit the crossbar from 18 yards out and Stillie made a fabulous save at the near post to deny McSwegan from the rebound. The East End Park faithful showed their displeasure when David Grondin was substituted in the 64th minute even though it was to make way for Lee Bullen. Scott Thomson moved to the left side of the back four to allow Bully to take up his customary right wingback position.
Thomson immediately made his presence felt on the left wing forcing desperate clearances out of the Killie box. The Pars were being more direct than their Ayrshire opponents and so they were the more threatening. It looked as though the Pars could go on to score again and put the game out of any doubt. Unfortunately this was not the way things turned out.
In the 69th minute Greg SHIELDS burst through the centre of the Pars defence to finish off a very good move involving Dodds, McSwegan and Boyd. The Pars reply through Thomson and Kilgannon was directed to Nicholson in the penalty box and when the former Ger was flattened there were claims for a penalty. Young stayed cool to return a pass that Brewster headed wide.
Bullen headed a corner under the crossbar and as the keeper hurried a clearance Crawford went down in a challenge. In the 76th minute Mason headed a Kilgannon cross narrowly over the crossbar and next a similarly started move allowed Brewster to do the same. Brew then turned provider for Kilgannon and having been played through the middle with only the keeper to beat young Sean failed to beat the keeper and produce the finish that would have been good enough to settle the match.
Gary McDonald came on for Dodds in the 78th minute and with his first touch received a Fulton free kick from the left courtesy of poor Kilgannon defending to test Stillie. The shot was well enough struck but lacked the power to beat the Pars keeper who made the save diving to his left. The Pars won a free kick 25 yards out after Stillie’s kick out came off Brewster’s shoulder and he was fouled before he could take advantage.
With Thomson standing over the set piece Nicholson ran over the ball and let Brewster step in to shoot. The ball rebounded off the Killie wall and the visitors delivered the killer punch with a Jamie Fowler overhead flick from in front of the dugouts centring for McSWEGAN to advance in on Stillie unchallenged and find the net with a clinical finish from 16 yards. The final ball had been an extremely good one leaving Andrius Skerla with no chance to prevent the outcome and put Kilmarnock ahead with just six minutes remaining.
The final opportunity to redeem the day came from a Stillie free kick that Crawford and Brewster fed out left for another Kilgannon cross that Nicholson headed at Dubourdeau. When the analysis is concluded on this match it will be hard to believe that the Pars failed to take three points never mind lose it. Scott Thomson was voted match sponsors AB Prattis & Sons, Man of the Match and there were no poor performers in the Dunfermline side. Missed chances cost them the match although conceding three goals makes any match hard to win.