SPL v Hearts

HEARTS 3 DUNFERMLINE 0 Date: 01/02/03

Fixture: BOS Premier League

The date 1/2/3 only comes but once a century but let`s hope that victories over Hearts at Tynecastle come more regularly. It`s still thirteen years since the Pars last victory in Gorgie as the latest attempt to rewrite the history books and erase the memory of George O`Boyle and Ross Jack`s goals in a 2-0 win in February 1990 disintegrated like in all the intervening matches.
Dunfermline fielded new signing Ged Brannan and made a starting space for Scott Walker for this match against Hearts. This meant that Gus McPherson and Gary Dempsey dropped out and on to the bench. Dunfermline kicked playing towards the Gorgie Road end and enjoyed a bright spell of early pressure forcing a free kick and a corner which raised hopes that this match might not just be the usual story.

In the third minute Jean-Louis Valois sent Scott Severin into the left side of the Pars box but the defence managed to clear. Hearts did then take control and Dunfermline`s only attempt was a long range one from Barry Nicholson which the Hearts keeper, Tepi Moilanen clutched with ease outside his right hand post.

Gary Wales pinched the ball from Scott Walker on the right and fed Valois who curled a dangerous shot which just cleared the cross bar. In the 12th minute Kevin McKenna passed a good ball out for Valois and his cross towards goal was intercepted by Brannan just when it looked as though Hearts might score.

Dunfermline were hemmed back and were relying, to some extent, on breakaways. Nicholson was denied such a break when Craig Brewster`s pass was just cut out. In the 17th minute Walker`s ball to Crawford allowed the Dunfermline No.9 to dance around one defender before Webster put in a telling tackle on the edge of the box.

Phil Stamp and Wales provided McKenna with a chance which was cut out, only for McKenna to have another crack which landed safely in Derek Stillie`s arms. Midway through the first half it was Wales who provided Severin with a good chance but fortunately his well struck shot was well wide to the left of target. Two minutes later, Severin again tried a chip from 25yards which Stillie gathered with ease.

Dunfermline`s only reply was a Jason Dair shot which came as a result of good play between Nicholson and Brewster but unfortunately the shot was nowhere near on target. A push on Stamp by Walker gave Hearts a free kick wide on the right. Valois, who took everything, floated the ball in but Skerla managed to get the ball away as a goalmouth melee ensued. Valois collected the clearance and sent the ball high over the crossbar.

Crawford and Hampshire threatened with another breakaway, but despite Nicholson`s presence, nothing could be made of the opportunity. In the 38th minute Brewster won possession in the centre circle and sent the ball up the right wing but Crawford, who had stayed back to prevent being caught offside, was too far away to convert the chance.

A series of Valois corners increased the pressure on the Pars defence which held out well in the circumstances. Alan Maybury fired over a cross three minutes from the interval which Stillie did well to hold given the close presence of McKenna. Severin got around Bullen out on the Hearts left and teed up Maybury with another crack at goal, which again Stillie saved well.

Just when it looked as though the Pars would make it through to the interval, a Valois cross from the right was met with a diving header by Scott SEVERIN to put Hears into the lead.

Within 90 seconds of the restart, Wales and McKenna combined to send in a cross which Stamp headed on target and Stillie dived to tip over the top. Hearts doubled their lead in the 48th minute when Gary WALES dissected the Dunfermline defence and slotted home from 16 yards.

Stevie Crawford hit the right goalpost after Brewster had pushed a ball to him on the right side of the Hearts box. After three minutes standing stripped on the bye-line, Noel Hunt and Sean Kilgannon were eventually brought on for Hampshire and Walker.

Dunfermline attacked with four up and the speed of Hunt looked an immediate advantage. His reaction to a prod on from Crawford produced a cross that Kilgannon should have buried after the Hearts keeper had palmed the ball out to him. Next, Nicholson provided Hunt with another ball on the right which was crossed for Crawford, but somehow Steven Pressley managed to win the ball and get it away.

Stillie was kept alert with a 35 yard shot that Maybury produced from nothing. The Pars keeper dived to make a fine save to his left. Brewster sent Hunt down the right yet again in the 66th minute and another cross for Crawford was volleyed at goal, but the keeper saved and collected before the ball could roll into the net.

Phil Stamp hit the crossbar as the pace of the game increased along with the fight from both teams. Earlier, Brannan and McKenna had scrapped, then Walker and Stamp had engaged in some physical stuff, but Mahe was outraged at Hunt`s attempts to win possession which narrowly missed connecting with the Frenchman`s legs. Brewster and Webster continued the aggression but despite their fight, Dunfermline had no answer to get the better of the Tynecastle defence.

As the rain came down, Stillie cut out a Stamp cross, while at the other end Brewster called on the Hearts keeper to make another excellent save. In the 80th minute, Hunt sent Bullen up the right for a cross that Brewster headed on but Kilgannon failed to turn in at the far post.

Dunfermline certainly were not getting the breaks and things went even further wrong, when Scott Wilson was yellow carded for a foul down on the touchline. This was his second yellow card of the match, having collected the first just three minutes into the second half for what would appear to have been a gesture to the crowd, since it was the far side assistant referee who instigated the referee`s need to open his pocket.

Stillie did well to smother a Stamp effort in the 84th minute and two minutes from time, when Crawford half connected Brewster stepped in to shoot firmly, but unfortunately over the crossbar. The game had gone well beyond the two minutes of additional time when deep on the Hearts left, Severin won a ball that provided Stamp with a cross that Bullen cleared, but only as far as Wales. The Hearts No.15 passed to his right to give McKENNA the easiest of chances to make it 3-0.

So yet again, not a happy return from Tynecastle. A good debut from Brannan but a performance from his mates that made the Manager apologise to his new signing for their poor performance.

Dunfermline have now scored in just two of their last seven matches and it would appear that if things are to change the goals must start to flow.