Pre Season Friendly v Portsmouth
DUNFERMLINE 1 PORTSMOUTH 0 Date: 02/08/03
Fixture: Pre Season Friendly
Kick Off: 14:30, Referee: Ian Fyfe
Weather: Sunny intervals 18C
Dunfermline kicked off their home fixtures of 2003-04 with a glamour friendly against Portsmouth. Following Pompey`s 5-0 demolition of Kilmarnock in midweek there was a danger that the South Coast outfit could make the SPL look like a Kiddies Party at McDonalds but Calderwood`s men saved the Scottish blushes and proved that were big Macs north of the border.
A goal from Barry Nicholson only 45 seconds into the second half was enough show that Dunfermline no small fries on a day that saw Andy Tod return to the Pars defence even though he was listed as Trialist.
This was a game in which Dunfermline absorbed a considerable amount of pressure from the opposition and frustrated Portsmouth despite them having a greater amount of possession. With only two minutes on the clock Barry Nicholson dispossessed Nigel Quashie just inside the visitors half and Barry advanced towards the Portsmouth goal before shooting wide from 30 yards out.
The Pars made the best of the early play with Stevie Crawford holding on to the ball, twisting, turning and back-tracking before chipping a ball in the direction of Craig Brewster in the D in front of goal. The ball floated over his striking partner but Lee Bullen raced in and looked to be lining up his shot when keeper Harald Wapenaar raced out to smother the ball.
The first corner of the match went Dunfermline’s way in the sixth minute when David Grondin’s cross was headed behind. The Frenchman took the corner from the bottom right corner to see the ball rebound off Andy Tod but out as far as Darren Young whose shot went wide to the left of goal. Portsmouth’s first danger threatened from a Sheringham free kick 30 yards out in a central position. Pompey’s new signing Patrik Berger shot into the six man wall.
Fifteen minutes into the game with the arrival of the noisy, out of rhythm Portsmouth band, the Englishmen started to play at least on the pitch, with more melody and Dunfermline seemed to be chasing the ball. Crawford did get away down the wing and his cross was lofted high into the air by Primus for the keeper to come out and punch away. Bullen headed away a Steve Stone free kick but Portsmouth were putting together some neat passes by this time with Berger being a big influence even beyond his left midfield role.
De Zeeuw launched a high ball over to the left which Bulgarian striker, Todorov fed to Berger and Gary Mason’s hand fortunately stopped what looked like a good flowing movement towards the Dunfermline net. Sheringham took the 28th minute free kick and the ball was deflected off the six man Dunfermline wall into the Norrie McCathie Stand.
Pompey continued pushing towards the Dunfermline goal with Zivkovic, Todorov and Stone combining well to allow Zivkovic to swing in a dangerous ball from the right. Again Dunfermline cleared, but Portsmouth seemed to be getting plenty of time to build up their attack. Berger and Quashie next set up Gary O’Neill with an opportunity which he blasted over the crossbar.
A long ball found Sheringham on the edge of the penalty box and when he squared it to Quashie, Derek Stillie was delighted to see the sliced shot go out for a throw in eight yards out from his left corner flag. The Pars only counter was a break started by McGroarty whose pass was collected by Brewster in the centre circle and was dispatched down the left for Nicholson. Unfortunately his cross aimed for Stevie Crawford at the far post was cut out by Wapenaar.
Portsmouth then contrived to miss the best chance of the match so far, just three minutes from the interval. O’Neill laced a fine ball to Berger who managed to break away from Gary Mason and round Andy Tod, before slipping the ball wide to the left of target while every Dunfermline supporter held their breath.
Marco Ruitenbeek came on for Stillie at half time and two shirt changes by the English visitors attempted to fool everyone into believing that they had fielded two half time substitutes. Whilst No.17 and 19 replaced No.5 and 11, the personnel within the shirts remained Berger and Quashie.
Many who were late in returning to their seats after the half time refreshments missed the only goal of the match which was scored by Barry NICHOLSON, only 45 seconds into the second half. David Grondin provided a good ball which Barry received on the right side at the top of the penalty box and he scooped it into the far side of the net to set off the celebratory East End Park music.
Bullen carried the ball from the half way line towards the opposition goal and the blue shirts stood back as they expected him to attempt to find one of the strikers. Bully accepted the opening and by the time he put in a useful shot from 18 yards, the keeper had awoken to the threat and he made a good save diving to his right as he advanced out the goals.
With 56 minutes gone, Dunfermline found themselves with ten of their players within the Portsmouth half. As the Pars pushed forward, Grondin displayed some fine control and delicate skills. It was he who created the next opening, picking out Brewster but unfortunately the finish was not of the same calibre.
For Portsmouth, Stone nearly produced the cross that would have got his team quickly back on level terms. Teddy Sheringham waited as the ball floated over the leaping Mason and the ex-Spurs striker headed down for Ruitenbeek to save but the ball span out of his hands and went for a corner on the left. De Zeeuw headed O’Neill’s corner over the crossbar.
Sheringham and Stone split the defence with a fine piece of skill, sending Todorov away but the final ball went too far and out over the left bye-line. In the 68th minute, Young provided Brewster with a chance from the edge of the box on the left side but his uncharacteristically weak shot went straight to the keeper.
Following a triple substitution by Harry Redknap, Portsmouth pushed even harder for the equaliser. Chris McGroarty lost possession to Vincent Pericard who passed left to Berger who struck a fine shot from outside the penalty box that slipped left of target. Scott Wilson headed a Pericard cross over the crossbar for another Portsmouth corner but the visitors failed to make any headway from any of the many corners they forced during this period of the match.
Quashie fired a freekick straight at Ruitenbeek and then when Pericard put Aiyegbeny through on the left his effort smashed back off Wilson. Try as they may, Portsmouth could not find their way through the Pars defence although in the 83rd minute when Pericard beat off Dair and drew Wilson out of position to set up a Sheringham shot at goal, the end result went straight into Marco’s arms. Stone and Berger sent Aiyegbeni in on goal but as he rushed in and released a shot, it went screaming over the top.
Nigerian Aiyegbeni had the last chance for the equaliser when in the 90th minute he bent one over the crossbar and although the ball did eventually find the Dunfermline net, one minute into injury time, it had clearly crossed the bye-line before it had been returned to be stuck away.
This may not have been the prettiest or most exciting Dunfermline performance, but it was the kind of result that the Pars will have to grind out if they are to have success against teams who are capable of turning on spectacular skills and retaining plenty of possession. Hopefully, there will not be too many teams like Portsmouth in the SPL but the management will be very pleased to take results in such circumstances this season.