SPL v Partick Thistle
DUNFERMLINE 0 PARTICK THISTLE 0 Date: 09/03/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier
This match did nothing to brighten a dull and dismal Sunday afternoon on West Fife. Thistle came and did what they do well; get everyone behind the ball and made sure that they spoiled every Dunfermline effort.
Forced to change the team that made history at Easter Road on Thursday because of injury to Gary Mason, Jimmy Calderwood brought in Noel Hunt with Stevie Crawford dropping back behind the front two. Thistle`s team included former Pars Gerry Britton and Derek Fleming
Partick kicked off into the wind towards the McCathie stand. Early play set the agenda for the ninety minutes; few goal mouth incidents and plenty of battling for possession. It was never going to be the prettiest match and the only memory from the first ten minutes was a clash which sent Mark McGarty and Derek Fleming to the treatment room for stitches.
The Pars pit crew were quickest dispensing four stitches and returning their man within 8 minutes. Fleming however required two more stitches than the wounded Par. In the interim a Skerla cross from the right wing caused concern as Kenny Arthur came for the ball and then dropped it at Hunt`s feet. The Irishman chipped the ball goalwards but the ball was cleared off the line.
Craigan sent Alex Burns deep into the right side of the Pars penalty box and Derek Stillie was quickly out to smother. Hunt tried a penetrating run through the middle but Paterson chopped him down and from the 28 yard free kick David Grondin shot wide right.
The visitors won a corner in the 17th minute after Andrius Skerla lost the ball to Britton and the Pars were fortunate to only lose a corner. Derek Stillie came for the corner and gathered at the second attempt. The keeper set up Dunfermline`s next chance when Craig Brewster headed on a long ball to Hunt who returned it for the striker to attempt a shot, but that was blocked and when Grondin returned a cross Thistle cleared the danger.
The Pars first corner of the match came in the 26th minute but Kenny Arthur came out to fist away.
With the Pars continuing to push forward, Skerla and McGarty got themselves into trouble on the right, leaving Gerry Britton the ball and allowing Alex Burns to play a one-two with Fleming. When the former Pars man repeated the move on the edge of the box, Stillie was out quickly to kill the threat.
A David Lilley free kick then produced a chance for Britton, but again Stillie saved from six yards. Britton had another shot which was wide of target before Dunfermline countered.
Noel Hunt was fouled by Craigan 30 yards out on the left hand side and from the free kick, Ged Brannan drove in a useful shot which was deflected wide left for a corner. Paterson headed clear the first corner but quickly Craigan conceded another from which Brewster got a free header but sent it wide of the goal.
Dunfermline threw on substitutes Dempsey and Dair at the start of the second half for Hunt and McGarty but the new legs faired no better as their team tried relentlessly to find a way through a resolute Thistle defence.
The half was nine minutes old when a long ball from MacPherson caused Paterson to foul Crawford and from the 30 yard free kick, Brannan squared to Dair who shot but high over the cross bar.
Five minutes later Ged Brannan shot wide from 30 yards and next things looked positive when Grondin played the ball through Brewster into the path of Dair, but the ball went out for a goal kick before anything could be made of it.
David Grondin`s 62nd minute shot from inside the left side of the penalty box forced a save out of the Partick keeper, possibly the first direct shot at him. Dempsey then provided Brewster with a ball which he dispensed at an angle to Nicholson, but his cross was intercepted.
As the Fifers tried everything to force an opening in the Thistle defence, Nicholson and Dempsey appeared to have succeeded when they set up Stevie Crawford at the far post, but he managed to let the ball run out for a goal kick. The increasingly impatient home support managed to produce concerted groans.
The next ten minutes were totally forgettable, challenging the entire Press corps to find anything worthy of note. Thankfully, Craig Brewster latched on a to a loose ball in the 81st minute to produce a powerful left-footed drive from 25 yards but Arthur saved easily.
Two minutes later Dair tried a break up the right wing and he succeeded in feeding Nicholson a ball which picked out Crawford at the far post, but he turned the ball straight to the keeper. Sean Kilgannon felt he should have done better when another Dair, Nicholson combination produced an inviting low ball into the penalty spot.
Brannan had the Pars last attempt in the 89th minute when a long free kick from Scott Wilson picked out Brewster on the left and the striker created a fine chance for the Scouser, but his header fell wide to the right of goal.
Partick ended with a flurry of activity which almost produced a winner. Fleming passed wide to Buchan on the left who crossed a wicked ball which substitute Andrew Gibson got on target, and the Pars were grateful that Stillie produced an equally good save.
The final whistle came almost as a relief, since there was a growing feeling that these teams could play all day and never hit the net. This was not a good performance from Dunfermline, although the Partick manager in waiting, Gerry Collins described his team`s performance as "magnificent". He no doubt takes solace from the fact that few teams outwith the Old Firm have any great success rate at East End Park.