SPL v Dundee United
DUNDEE UNITED 3 DUNFERMLINE 0 Date: 01/03/03
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier
With the month ending with the international weekend blanking out the SPL fixtures, Dunfermline were hoping that March would come in like a lion. An unchanged side travelled to Tannadice to see if they could roar into a repeat of their winning feat of September 14th.and ensure that the Arabs would continue to prop up the rest of the league. Unfortunately it was the Pars who got the mauling.
Ian McCall sent out a team to face Dunfermline for the second time this season hoping that his new charges would fair better than his previous. Billy Dodds was on the bench as United handed Russell Latapy a debut and the Pars were up against former club captain Andy Tod.
Dunfermline kicked off played towards the Dens end and had much of the early play. Within two minutes Ged Brannan forced United to concede a corner from a Jason Dair free kick. Paul Gallacher eventually dealt with Grondin`s corner stretching to hold.
United forced two corners of their own two minutes later with Latapy`s low ball being taken away by Gary Mason and David Grondin. In the 7th minute Brewster and Grondin failed to accept a gift when Gallacher mis-kicked and might have regretted it had Latapy`s 30 yard free kick evaded Barry Nicholson in the wall.
There were loud appeals from the home fans for a penalty when Jim Paterson beat MacPherson and Mason`s tackle took the Irishman to the deck. The Pars reply was a big punt through the middle from Derek Stillie for Brewster. McCracken did enough to stop the ex United striker and then a Nicholson ball from the right for Stevie Crawford at the far post came to nothing.
The match lacked incident and possession became balanced in the home side`s favour. Derek Lilley had the ball in the net but the flag was up early for offside. Dunfermline could only manage a Crawford shot that was easily taken by Gallacher and a 29th minute pop from Ged Brannan that was parried away for a corner. The corner eventually allowed Crawford a shot that was just wide left.
Gary Bollan sent in a free kick three minutes later that Lilley struck and had deflected over for a corner. Crawford had a chance as Dunfermline broke from the set piece. Although Nicholson was steaming through the middle, Stevie decided to try route one but was robbed by McCunnie and all was lost.
Jim Paterson was giving Gus MacPherson a torrid timer on the left flank and having beaten off the veteran defender Paterson sent over a ball that the Pars defence knew little about. No damage resulted but almost immediately Paterson repeated the feat but got a little more height on his cross and in nipped Craig EASTON to head in from six yards out. United one up then after 39 minutes and really to no one`s surprise because the signs and pressure had been increasing.
The only retort was a 35 yard Brannan free kick on the stroke of half time that Gallacher dived low to his left to hold.
Half Time: Dundee United 1 Dunfermline 0
Noel Hunt was brought on for Jason Dair at half time as the Pars management tried to inject some oomph into the lacklustre visitors. The second 45 was not two minutes old however when Andy TOD slid in at the far post to put United into a two goal lead. Lilley did all the work on the left hand side, crossing a ball that was missed at the near post but gratefully received at the other.
United continued to turn the screw. Jim McIntyre shot straight at the blue shirted Stillie. At the other end Crawford had a 20 yard shot that was well wide, then Hunt had a break up the right that ended with him hitting the sidenetting.
Sean Kilgannon came on for MacPherson as the famous 2-4-4 was replayed. This time it was not to change anything but the two man defence of Skerla and Wilson did every bit as well on their own that than they had done with help around them.
Brewster failed to get in a shot when on the hour he looked as though he had carved out a chance. In 69 minutes a Grondin cross was headed in by Hunt but was defended for a corner. Nicholson`s corner from the right was too deep and the advantage was lost.
Grondin swung over another cross for Hunt and again a corner was the best that could be achieved. Scott Wilson headed the corner over the crossbar. Then Nicholson screamed one over the bar from a Grondin corner.
A Stillie punt in the 76th minute was flicked on by Brewster but Crawford narrowly missed connecting with it. Then Craw did get a shot on a Kilgannon cross but the United defence blocked it. Brannan headed a Nicholson cross at the keeper as United were happy to drop back and defend their advantage.
Grondin sent through Crawford in the 83rd minute but the Scotland striker sent the shot wide right. Noel Hunt then followed with a similar result and Brewster drove a Grondin cross straight at Tod.
With three minutes left Noel Hunt came closest of the day for the Pars when he headed a Grondin corner towards the net but Gallacher produced one of his international efforts to retain his clean sheet.
To finish a miserable afternoon substitute Allan Smart got the better of Skerla on the right side of the penalty box and his ball to Danny Ogunmade standing on the angle of the six yard box was despatched with ease passed the helpless Stillie.
Another bad day at the office for Calderwood`s troops. He keeps pointing out that they are poor travellers. Successive away defeats from the bottom two teams in the SPL is not the kind of form that is going to encourage the opening of savings schemes for support in UEFA competition.
Before the Pars can travel into Europe they are going to have to discover how to travel to Motherwell and Dundee and produce respectful performances.
Pass marks would be difficult in this match; praise should be made of Gary Mason`s fine marking on Latapy which in no small way lead to the early substitution of their new signing.