SPL v Motherwell
DUNFERMLINE 3 MOTHERWELL 0 Date: 05/04/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 4086, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: David Somers, Weather: Dry, Bright 14C
It seems rare these days that a game at East End Park kicks off at 3pm on a Saturday but today`s visit of Motherwell offered fans just such an occasion. The first regularly-scheduled home game since November was welcomed with fair weather and a comfortable win for the Pars, ensuring that although there was not a bumper crowd the majority
went home happy.
Dunfermline may have had cause to be slightly cautious after being felled by the Lanarkshire men on their trip to Fir Park but if there were any thoughts that it might happen again they were quickly dispelled. It took less than a minute of play for Craig Brewster`s cross to serve up the first chance of the game, but the returning Lee Bullen sent his header high over the bar.
Brewster tried his luck himself with five minutes gone sending a curling effort past Dubourdeau`s right hand post. After the Pars won a string of fruitless corners the experienced striker turned to flash another shot past the opposite post minutes later.
The Pars were not looking threatened at all and after eighteen minutes finally took the lead. Brewster was involved again, latching onto a high ball in the visitors` box and when Dubourdeau blocked his initial effort, Crawford`s replacement Steve HAMPSHIRE was on hand to prod the ball easily home from close range.
Pars had been leading only a short time when Motherwell seemed sure to equalise. Dirk Lehmann`s low cross along the face of the goal was directed onto the post by Lasley, and to his surprise and despair rolled back along the goal line before being cleared.
Captain for the day Scott Wilson was the first to pick up a booking, for a foul on McFadden. No sooner had the free kick been cleared than a similar foul was awarded the opposite way in the other half. The Pars did slightly better than Motherwell`s poor effort, Grondin sending a curling ball to the back post where Barry Nicholson was waiting. He was unmarked long enough to direct a powerful header toward goal but the ball was thumped clear by Partridge.
Motherwell had not looked impressive and their chances looked to have been reduced further when, with ten minutes to go, they were reduced to ten men. Brewster and Vaughan were involved in a tussle to gain possession of a loose ball and when the Pars attacker came out on top Vaughan`s clumsy tackle with Brewster through on goal left the referee little option.
The Pars didn`t make the best of the change in Motherwell`s defence in the immediate aftermath, managing only a few half-hearted headers that fell off target. Hampshire had the chance to round off a good first half when given a free run to the edge of the Motherwell goal but like Brewster in the opening stages he curled the ball just past the wrong side of the upright.
Dunfermline continued their domination into the second half and had to wait just five minutes to extend their lead. A woeful pass by Scott Leitch gifted a throw-in to the Pars in a seemingly harmless area just inside the Motherwell half. However, Hampshire`s headed flick was helped further along its course by a neat overhead chip from Brewster.
Barry NICHOLSON found himself through on goal and, approaching from the right hand corner of the box, slotted the ball casually under Dubourdeau.
Midway into the second half Motherwell should have clawed back a goal. The Pars defence were caught napping and while they claimed offside, Derek Adams was allowed one of the easiest chances of the game. With Stillie rooted to his line and Adams only five yards out, not even the Motherwell unfortunate will be able to explain how managed to drive his shot straight into Stillie`s arms.
Motherwell did not use this chance to build momentum; instead the best chance they could create saw a poor attempted header roll off McFadden`s shoulder and wide of the goal. It was to be McFadden`s last attempt of the game. Whether Terry Butcher was worried that McFadden`s obvious frustration at being kept out the game by Gary Mason might lead to more indiscipline or merely that he sensed a change was desperately needed, the substitution of Clarkson for McFadden was to have little effect on the game. Four minutes later Dunfermline had their third goal.
A good run by Barry Nicholson was matched by the quality of his pass to substitute Noel HUNT, and the young Irishman took one touch to control the ball before unleashing a volley that displayed little power but pin point accuracy to sneak in at the post and give Dubourdeau no chance. The game was beyond all doubt now and Hunt was more than happy to get into the spirit of things with the most acrobatic goal celebration seen at East End in some years.
The Pars tried to test the Well keeper with a couple of long range efforts from Grondin and new signing Jim Hamilton, after the former had already had one close range effort blocked following a low cross from Hampshire, but the last clear-cut chance of the game was to fall to Motherwell.
On the stroke of full time a swirling ball to Stillie`s back post should have been nodded home by Dirk Lehmann but the former Hibee somehow directed his header past the post and his frustration towards it.
Motherwell should have real concerns on this showing, but for the Pars support it was a good performance to notch up a good result and, thanks to results elsewhere, with one game left before the split a place in the top six is guaranteed.
Next Match v Rangers (away) Scottish Cup replay Wdnesday 9th April 2003 (ko 7.45pm)