SPL v Aberdeen
ABERDEEN 1 DUNFERMLINE 2 Date: 23/08/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 10860, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: John Rowbotham, Weather: Sunny, 19C
Roadside cameras on the A90 have put pay to the day when Pars wanderers could speed home from Aberdeen but the freshly cut cornfields of the Mearns with their neatly baled straw and the flaky white clouds up in the blue early evening sky made the trip home with three SPL points all the more beautiful.
Some of the 500 or so travelling Pars supporters would be tiny wee lads when their team last won at Pittodrie almost six years ago. Then the Pars side including Andy Tod won courtesy of a late goal from substitute Gerry Britton. Mother`s throughout the Auld Grey Toun should now be making sure that their offspring follow Athletic because the "heavenly dancers" are now on song and sitting third in the league after three matches.
There were two changes from the team that produced the smash and grab result at Dens Park last Sunday. Darren Young replaced his injured brother Derek ,and David Grondin started in place of the now on loan (to Clyde) Chris McGroarty. Aberdeen, having lost the opening two games to Hearts and Rangers, were looking to open their SPL account against the team they managed to take six points off at home last season.
Crawford and Brewster kicked off with Dunfermline defending the goal in front of the Richard Donald stand. Early play was fairly even and open until in the 9th minute Aberdeen started a bombardment on the Pars defence. Derek Stillie pulled out a fantastic two-handed tip over the bar as Paul Sheerin’s rocketing shot looked like ending up in the top left of the Pars net.
Two Aberdeen corners quickly ensued and Scott Booth had the ball in the net and the stand behind on their feet, but referee John Rowbotham penalised the Dons for a foul on the keeper. Grondin made a good interception which denied Tosh collecting a pass from Sheerin and it was he who picked out Bullen on the right wing to tee up Young with Dunfermline’s first shot at goal. Unfortunately, the effort lacked power and David Preece gathered with ease.
There were only 14 minutes gone when Andy Tod was forced to concede a corner that Sheerin swung over the ball from the right corner flag. It flashed through the Pars six yard box untouched. Michael Hart sent in another ball from the right minutes later that Barry Nicholson got away before David Zdrilic managed to connect. The Pars only reply was another Young shot which ended up wide to the left of the Aberdeen goal. This chance had been created through classy play from Crawford and Bullen.
In the 19th minute, Stillie was caught way out of his box on the left and when Sheerin found himself in possession, egged on by the crowd, he shot from 30 yards at the empty net, but good fortune favoured Stillie and the Pars as Sheerin’s effort went narrowly wide to the left of target. The ball was headed wide to the other side of the Pars goal just two minutes later when Zdrilic met a Heikkinen cross from the right.
It came as no surprise when in the 23rd minute Aberdeen took the lead. The visiting defence was ripped apart by a slick passing movement on the left side of the penalty box from Sheerin to Booth and then to ZDRILIC allowed the 22 times capped Australian striker to slot in from 15 yards.
This was the wake up call that Dunfermline needed. Immediately the team started to exchange passes with greater accuracy and intent. Nicholson laid the ball back for Skerla to pump it wide right for Crawford. His cross to the far post was cut out by Preece. Next, a Nicholson ball from the left was headed behind for a corner by Philip McGuire. Then the Pars equalised only seven minutes after going behind.
Stevie Crawford showed some great skills in controlling the ball and then beating off the challenge of McGuire. Craw’s ball into the six yard area was perfectly placed for Craig BREWSTER to head in his first goal of the season.
A Booth shot was deflected onto the roof of the Pars net and at the other end a Grondin corner picked out Lee Bullen’s head but the Aberdeen defence beat away the threat. Two minutes before the interval a free kick coming after a nasty tackle by Heikkinen on Brewster was punted long from Stillie to Bullen on the right flank. Bullen fed the ball to Crawford who returned it for Lee to head at goal, but unfortunately the crossbar wasn’t high enough.
Aberdeen introduced Muirhead for Booth at half time and with Zdrilic having been replaced by Hinds just before the interval, the Dons looked as though they might be handicapped with the loss of their first choice striking partnership. Sheerin latched on to an Andy Tod clearance in the 49th minute, but the Dons No.10 shot tamely along the ground to Stillie.
Bullen accepted a Nicholson pass four minutes later and launched himself into one of his trademark darting moves towards goal. Sprinting from almost half way, Bully lashed out with his left foot as he reached the edge of the box and Preece touched it round his right hand goalpost, although the match officials awarded a goalkick.
A Crawford burst on the right provided more fodder for Brewster, but another deflection won a corner on the right in front of the travelling support. Grondin swung over the corner that David Preece came out to in Superman style and when the ball fell to Nicholson, the strike went over the bar. Within the next minute, NICHOLSON managed to put the Pars ahead. A poor kick out from Preece, followed by an inept passback from Heikkinen let Brewster push the ball wide right to Barry. He locked on to it and dispatched in great style passed the advancing keeper.
There were fantastic scenes of celebration as the players drowned Barry immediately in front of the ecstatic Pars fans. The fans managed to celebrate long after John Rowbotham had organised the restart with "It’s a grand old team to play for" bellowing out from the South East Stand. On the park, the Pars were much more on song too. They enjoyed more possession and looked much more confident on the ball after going ahead in the 56th minute.
Stillie was quickly out to clutch a Muirhead cross from the left and after Aberdeen had brought on Kevin McNaughton for Tosh, the Pars goal survived when the substitute smashed a loose ball narrowly over the top.
Aberdeen pushed for the equaliser and almost got it in the 88th minute after Stillie saved Deloumeaux’s drive from 25 yards and then stopped Hind’s header. The ball broke to Heikkinen who stuck it in the net, but the assistant referee had his flag already raised for offside.
After Nicholson`s goal the players of both sides tired in the unfamiliar Pittodrie heat and despite the push from Aberdeen near the end Dunfermline hung on for three famous points.
Stevie Crawford looked much better today and yet again Derek Stillie performed brilliantly to thwart his old team. At the final whistle the players saluted the Pars support for "It`s a grand old team to play for". Let`s hope at the end of the season "many a sight" we shall have seen.