SPL v Livingston
LIVINGSTON 1 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 02/11/02
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 6324, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: John Rowbotham, Weather: Wet 12C
For the second successive away game, Dunfermline failed to hold on to a lead which would have earned them 3 important points.
When the teams emerged from the tunnel there was an immediate shock that Livingston might be playing Livingston reserves. With Livi`s new strip being white shirts with gold shorts, there was a clash with the Dunfermline all orange away strip. The referee John Rowbotham insisted Dunfermline played with black shorts, with the result that they just looked like the Livingston of last season.
This might have been significant since the Pars travelled to the City Stadium seeking to retain their place behind Rangers and Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premier League.
The Pars playing towards the McArthur Glen end were first to provide a goalmouth incident when Scott Thomson sent in a good ball from the right that Craig Brewster almost converted.
Any doubts that Livingston were going to let Dunfermline run the show were dispelled in the 4th minute when Phillipe Brinquin earned a yellow card for a late tackle on Gary Dempsey.
Livingston were the first to test the goalkeepers when a move from Quino through Makel to Bingham on the edge of the Dunfermline box brought the grey shirted Marco Ruitenbeek out to quash the danger.
Scott Thomson`s free kick in the next minute almost reached Wilson at the far post but Marvin Andrews was alert to clear. Craig Brewster supplied Gary Dempsey with a ball but the young Irishman pushed out wide right for Stevie Crawford to shoot at goal. Unfortunately the Scotland striker was too far out and his effort not strong enough to worry the Livingston keeper.
Dunfermline continued to press with Davie Nicholls, playing in a left midfield role, sending a long through ball down the left for Crawford but between him and Thomson all they could win was a corner. Nicholls effort from the corner went straight to Broto.
Things were looking good for the Pars in the 13th minute when Lee Bullen took off down the left flank beating Makel and getting beyond Andrews but the resultant cross only confused the awaiting Dempsey and Brewster and yet another good chance was scorned.
Bullen himself took the responsibility with his next forward drive only 2 minutes later, but the shot from 25 yards went way wide right.
Livingston were awarded a free kick when the referee decided that even though Barry Nicholson was bulldozed over, the free kick was awarded in Livingston`s favour. Barry Wilson fired the 35 yard effort low but Marco gathered at the post.
The Livingston drums were kept quiet as Brewster sent Bullen into space down the left yet again. Bully swung over a ball which Dempsey chested down but Crawford could not pounce to add to his season`s tally of goals.
Ooohs came from the Livingston support, when on the half hour Makel sent a good ball deep into the Dunfermline penalty box. Fortunately, Marco yet again was quick to gather because Bingham was steaming in on him.
Play swiftly switched to the other end and Dunfermline were awarded a free kick 30 yards out. Nicholson, Nicholls, Dempsey and Thomson stood over the ball as the opposition formed a 5 man wall. Former Blackburn player Burton O`Brien peeled off the wall to block Nippers shot.
Ruitenbeek was in action again the following minute after a long ball out of defence was flicked on by Dadi to Quino who struck from the edge of the box but the Dutchman was his measure. The Pars got their passing game together with Nicolls, Crawford, Bullen and Thomson building up a promising move which ended with Craig Brewster firing to the outside of the Livi left post.
Two minutes later his striking partner Stevie Crawford latched on to a long through ball from Nicholls to speed down the left wing, around Oscar Rubio only to be blocked by Broto on the edge of the six yard box. A corner was awarded but many a less sporting player would have gone down looking for a penalty.
Livingston had their chances and in the 37th minute O`Brien fed the ball along the 18 yard line for David Bingham but the former Pars man failed to connect, missing a really good opportunity. This naturally caused some amusement to the Pars support behind the goal.
Bingo did, however, manage a shot on target two minutes later when Dadi and O`Brien got the better of the Pars defence to line up a chance. Marco was looking round to see where the ball had landed as it spun under him but fortunately he did enough to divert the shot for a corner.
Livi were pushing forward when a minute before halftime Marco thwarted a good move, then flung a characteristically long ball for Lee Bullen wide on the left. Nicholls accepted Lee`s pass and sent over a good cross in the direction of Craig Brewster. The tall striker attempted a first time effort with his left foot from 15 yards out but unfortunately the ball went just over the crossbar.
The second half could not have started any better, unless of course you had not returned from the pie stall. There were only 98 seconds gone when the ball was struck firmly into the bottom right of the Livingston net off the boot of Craig BREWSTER. The goal came from a swift move up the left involving both Crawford and Dempsey.
The goal ignited what had been a rather mundane goalless draw with Livingston rocked into action. Gary Bollan had an effort in the 52nd minute which was just wide and high. Next Bollan supplied Barry Wilson with a chance which he chipped at goal but was deflected for a corner.
Dadi made a strong challenge from the corner and the Pars defence were relieved to boot the ball clear. Dadi and Bingham then provided Bollan with yet another shooting opportunity which this time he chose to fire wide right of the target.
In the 61st minute the former St Johnstone fullback swung over yet another chance for Wilson and his header was pushed on to the crossbar by Ruitenbeek and Gus McPherson performed heroics to keep the ball out of the net.
Having survived that, Dunfermline quickly switched play to the other end, Lee Bullen sliding a good ball out for Brewster on the right. His cross expertly picked out Gary Dempsey on the left side of the penalty box. Gary took the ball down, controlled it, beat a couple of players to put himself in a perfect position but all this good work was lost when he dispatched the well worked opportunity over the crossbar.
This should have put Dunfermline into a two goal lead and the miss deflated the supporters and possibly the team. Gus McPherson, who was playing a commanding role in the centre of the Dunfermline defence, was yellow carded for a late, but innocuous tackle, on the right touchline. Wilson`s free kick was played through Bollan to O`Brien but the defence did enough to block the shot.
With 66 minutes of the match gone, Lee Bullen then had the best possible chance to notch the goal of the season. An incredibly fast break up the left saw the utility Pars man leave Makel in his slipstream, round a defender and fire at the target. Unfortunately, the rocket shot was well wide of the right goalpost.
Three minutes later as the November rain soaked the players, Brinquin from wide on the right sent in a cross which Eugene Dadi diverted onto the roof of the net. Thankfully, the outside of the net. Livi continued to exert pressure on the visitors. Quino had a deflected shot which went straight to Marco.
Philipe Brinquin then escaped a second yellow card and consequent sending off when the referee decided that his tackle on Bullen deserved only a free kick. Nicholson drove the free kick low on target but Broto made the necessary save.
The Livingston management team replaced Wilson with Zarate and Bingham with Xausa in the 72nd minute and then followed that by introducing Cherif six minutes later. The strangely numbered 91 was only on the park for a minute when he struck a fine shot from the edge of the box into the top right corner of the Pars net.
The movement for the goal started with a throw in level with the Dunfermline 18 yard line. McPherson was busy organising the defence when Xausa swung in a dangerous ball which saw Scot Wilson and Dadi challenge at the far post. The ball was not sufficiently cleared and CHERIF grabbed the route to instant success.
The Livi substitutes had rekindled their fight and the Pars then looked in danger of losing further goals. Xausa had a drive which went wide left and it was Dunfermline who were happier to hear the final whistle.
The visitors could rightly claim that they had the better of the first three quarters of this match. In the end, they must deeply regret not converting the excellent second half chances which fell to Dempsey and Bullen. As at Rugby Park the manager and players felt that they had let 2 points slip away from them.