SPL v Partick Thistle
PARTICK THISTLE 4 DUNFERMLINE 0 Date: 07/12/02
Fixture: BOS Premier League
Talk of qualification for Europe for the first time in 34 seasons proved to be somewhat premature. On this showing however the newspapers better run the stories now because First Division Champions Partick Thistle would have as good a chance of qualifying for the UEFA Cup as do the current third placed team, Dunfermline Athletic.
With a nice five point cushion in third place in the SPL, things might have been looking all roses for the Pars but the Thistle of Maryhill know how to spoil the dream. High flying Pars suffered their first league defeat at Firhill for 28 years as John Lambie`s troops performed the reality check on Dunfermline.
Scott Wilson was not available through suspension, back to fitness Gary Mason returned to the side which showed no other changes from the side that disposed so comprehensively of Dundee United on Wednesday evening.
Scotland`s No.1 club mascot, Sammy led the optimistic 600 or so travelling support.
Partick kicked off towards the Pars support in the North Stand and the vibes were good when Stevie Crawford laid a ball back to Craig Brewster in the third minute. Kenny Arthur dived to turn the ball round his left hand post.
The Pars were pushing forward two minutes later when a Brewster lay back went directly to David Lilley. The Partick right wing back swung over a cross that eventually found its way to Hardie on the left and he delivered a ball that Gerry BRITTON rose to head the ball passed Stillie in the Dunfermline goal.
Going behind comes as a shock to most teams but for Dunfermline it is a fairly normal occurrence. No one was going to get too upset about the early set back - yet!
Only two minutes passed until Scott Paterson had a 30 yard shot at goal that rebounded back off the left goalpost into the path of Britton but Derek Stillie did just enough to stop the former East End favourite.
Dunfermline`s reply was restricted to a long range Barry Nicholson strike and a Brewster first time effort that went over the crossbar. Skerla was applauded for his 19th minute cut out of Kenny Milne but the Jags were really causing Athletic problems. Free kicks and Craigan throw ins rained on the penalty area giving the defence a torrid time.
On 28 minutes Alex Burns made ground down the left that really he shouldn`t have been allowed. Britton met the former Rovers man`s cross and his strong headed rebounded back off the crossbar. The Firhill crowd were certainly getting their thrills and the burst into Springer Show chants of Jerry, Jerry.
Pars counter on the half hour was through Skerla to Bullen but Lee`s shot was high over the top. Next Kilgannon threaded a pass to Nicholson on the edge of the area. Barry`s shot hit the sidenetting.
Britton and Burns were running around cause great problems for the defence exaggerated by Dunfermline pushing forward. In the 37th minute Lee Bullen sent over a good ball from the right wing which found Brewster and Nicholson was in hand to shoot in a first time effort from the edge of the box.
Stillie tipped another Paterson shot around his right post but the corner - Thistle only one of the match - only served to set up the Pars. The clearance was hoofed upfield by Brewster to Nicholson and his pass was to Kilgannon who shot by was easily saved by Arthur.
Four minutes from the half time break Crawford turned his defender but his shot was well high of the target. Brewster earned another corner for a deflected shot and then Jason Dair shot wide.
Just when it looked as though Dunfermline had weathered the storm, Paterson won the ball midway into the Dunfermline half. The Jags man picked out BURNS on the left and he took the direct route to slot home from the edge of the box.
Half Time 2 - 0
The Fifers were requiring a comeback of Dens Park proportions and started the second half as though they believed it possible. That brisk start soon faded out and when the defence lost possession in the 52nd minute BURNS despatched a low shot which sent the ball into the left side of Stillie`s goal off the boot of Lee Bullen.
With more than half an hour remaining, the game was over. There was no cavalier Calderwood tactics; McGroarty came on for Walker who was not the worst Pars player on the park but all the pushing forward failed with the player being crowded out or lacking luck as in the case of Nicholson in the 58th minute when he shot came back off the heels of a retreating Thistle defender.
Thomson tried to inspire with a run through the opposition but his shot was cleared with Brewster and Crawford waiting to net. The home fans were looking for a penalty after Mason and Mitchell spilled in the box but Willie Young was having none of it.
The substitutes were introduced with regular interruption. Hampshire for Dair and then Dempsey for Mason. Nicholson was high over the crossbar and then a move involving Nicholson and McGroarty failed to find Brewster. This was typical of the afternoon`s play with the Pars enjoying plenty of possession but being let down with their final ball.
As if things weren`t bad enough another defensive mistake let in Scott McLEAN for goal four. Andrius Skerla got his head on a cross from the right but only succeeded in setting up the Partick sub who found the target from 18 yards out.
The home support were in full song with everything including "East Fife" being voiced at the travelling support. They even saw the funny side of a wayward Scott Paterson shot that was heading for the Kingston Bridge by chanting "there`s only two Amorusos".
Lee Bullen had the best chance of grabbing a consolation goal just five minutes from the end. His one two with Brewster putting in on goal but his thumping shot was just outside the left goalpost.
Gerry Britton was named the Man of the Match. He thoroughly deserved it and also the applause he received from the home support as he was substituted in the final minute.
The final whistle came with no one objecting to the lack of added minutes. This was a dreadful performance from Dunfermline. Partick were first on to every breaking ball and the Fifers could barely control anything.
Jimmy Calderwood compared it to the cup exit at the hands of Ayr United. There was no hope of a Dunfermline award for MOM. Sammy the Tammy was the most pleasing Pars performance and after that there was no one.
This game might be the wake up that is required. We will have to wait 8 days until Aberdeen are the visitors at East End to see if the team can get back to their winning ways.