SPL v Dundee
DUNDEE 0 DUNFERMLINE 2 Date: 17/08/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 7750, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Charlie Richmond, Weather: Sunny 22C
Darren Young was not fit so there was a slot for Lee Bullen returning after serving his one match suspension. Otherwise the Pars were unchanged from the team that opened the season against Celtic the previous Saturday, as they took on Dundee fresh from their UEFA Cup success in Albania on Thursday night.
It was a rare warm afternoon where replica shirts were very appropriate attire for those who sit in the stand. Dundee kicked off towards the Pars support in the East stand and all the action was in front of the travellers.. In the fourth minute indecision in the middle of the park let in Gavin Rae and his shot broke off Scott Wilson and wide to the left of goal.
Craig Brewster had an early attempt but his turn 20 yards out produced a shot that was well of target. Gary Mason’s clearance out of defence sent away Stevie Crawford but his ball to Derek Young was too strong. Mason swung over another chance for Brewster but nothing bothered Julian Speroni.
Barry Nicholson was forced into a clumsy tackle on Steve Lovell after Crawford’s pass had gone astray and Dundee began to enjoy the bulk of the territorial advantage. Dundee captain Barry Smith exchanged passes with Nemsadze and the Pars defence were scrambling about trying to put Smith off his shot. The effort went wide right.
At the other end there was a brief respite from the Dundee pressure. Young provided Nicholson for a cross to the far post where Bullen charged in but his challenge could only win a corner. Andy Tod met Nicholson’s corner from the right but his knock down to Crawford needed an acrobatic effort and again the Dundee keeper was not called into action.
Lovell and Novo got the better of Skerla and had the wee ex Rovers striker managed to stay on his feet he might have scored. Instead he laid the ball back for Lovell to shoot from outside the box. His shot beat Stillie but skinned off the outside of the right goalpost for a bye kick.
The Fifers struggled a bit to contain the nippy Dees front men and the travelling support found themselves applauding their defence instead of their attack. Trinidadian Brent Sancho looked menacing with his runs down the right where all to often Chris McGroarty seemed to find himself with both Brady and Sancho to deal with.
Frustration was boiling over in the dugout with Jimmy Calderwod apparently shouting at everyone from Derek Stillie to Stevie Crawford. The Pars touches were not coming off. Dundee enjoyed the bulk of the possession, no doubt as a result of their dominance of the midfield. There were no signs that the Dark Blues were suffering any fatigue from their trip to Vllzania, indeed they were the sharper of the two teams. The pessimists among the Pars support were beginning to think it would only be a matter of time before Dundee went ahead.
The 34th minute almost provided Dundee with their answer. Sancho worked the ball through Grady and Novo to burst into the penalty box and slip a ball across goal which Stillie tipped away for a corner. Lee Wilkie headed Nemsadze’s cross over the crossbar. Three minutes later, neat footwork from Sancho won a corner kick despite McGroarty’s complaints about the decision. Brady won another corner off McGroarty in the 39th minute but neither set pieces troubled the keeper.
Stillie was well out, however, to hold on to a chipped through ball from Sancho that Novo threatened to put away. With half time beckoning, the Dunfermline keeper pulled off a wonderful save after Lovell had supplied Brady with an opportunity to cross from the right. The ball broke off the leaping Tod and Novo sent the ball netbound until the timely intervention of Derek Stillie. Somehow he managed to get a hand to the ball.
The fourth official, Colin Hardie, was preparing to hold up the board for one extra minute at the end of the half when Scott Wilson swung over a free kick which had Bullen and Tod challenging in the left sector of the penalty box. Neither got to the ball and no doubt taken by surprise, Dundee’s Scotland defender, Lee WILKIE slotted the ball into his own net. After all the excertion of the home team, there was no-one who would dispute that the Pars goal was anything other than against the run of play.
Having scored at the wrong end in the last two fixtures between these Clubs, Barry Nicholson was on a hat-trick, but it was Dundee’s turn to gift the Pars a half time lead. Jimmy Calderwood introduced Jason Dair for McGroarty as the second half started and no doubt boosted by taking the lead, the Pars kicked off with a bit more intent.
Within 30 seconds of the restart Gary Mason forced Speroni into possibly his first save of the match when Crawford and Brewster created a chip into the opposition penalty box. Next, Speroni was forced to concede a corner when Derek Young received a Mason pass to cross from the right for Stevie Crawford to head goalwards. Andy Tod dispatched Nicholson’s corner over the crossbar.
That early flurry soon resorted back to Dundee pressure. On the 50th minute, Smith’s ball to Nacho Novo was controlled before he fired wide left. Nemsadze was booked in the 52nd minute and from the resultant free kick, Nicholson squared the ball to Mason who drove in a fine shot from 30 yards out but unfortunately wide right.
Dunfermline were dealt a blow just 10 minutes into the second half when striker Craig Brewster had to be substituted by Gary Dempsey. Brew quickly removed his left boot and Mo Hutton dug into his cool box for an ice pack to put round the striker’s ankle.
Dundee continued to threaten with a Brady shot turned around the post by Stillie. The visitor’s defence was ragged and desperate as they cleared successive corners but there was some hope when Mason was up to send in a ball that was cleared only as far as Dair. He slipped it to Dempsey for a 20 yard shot that just cleared the crossbar.
In the 65th minute, Barry Smith sent a ball screaming through the penalty box but fortunately slipped wide right evading the lunge of Gavin Rae. With the introduction of Fabian Caballero, Dundee played with three men up and Lee Bullen found himself switched to the left of the back four. Wilkie headed a Nemsadze free kick wide of the target and then after Crawford was yellow carded for a foul on Brady, Wilkie and Nemsadze repeated the feat.
Lee Mair was forward in the 77th minute and had two go’s before eventually winning a corner which Stillie easily dealt with, holding Wilkie’s header. Caballero fired a long distance shot which rebounded out of Stillie’s arms to be taken at the second attempt. Time was running out for Dundee but still Stillie kept them out. Nemsadze pushed through a fine ball for Cabellero and the keeper was out well to block.
Dunfermline’s new signing from West Ham, young Billy Mehmet, came on as an 87th minute substitute for Derek Young. The young Englishman’s first involvement exchanging passes with Crawford split the Dundee defence, allowing Crawford to pick out Dempsey on the left edge of the penalty box. Gary prodded the ball towards the penalty spot beyond the defenders and CRAWFORD had the simplest of chances which he took handsomely.
The second goal heralded the mass exodus of Dundee support, who found themselves queuing up at the exits to get out. They had seen their team dominate their first home match of the 2003-04 season and yet witnessed a 2-0 defeat. All credit to the Pars defence, yet another shut-out, and an important result given the schedule of away games that the team face while the East End Park surface is transformed.