SPL v Aberdeen
ABERDEEN 3 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 28/09/02
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 11678, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: D Somers, Weather: Mild and dry
Having won their last two road trips, the Pars made the long journey north to the Granite City in confident mood, looking to achieve the elusive `three Premier League away wins`, for the first time in the club`s history. With the three pre-match injury doubts, Bullen, Wilson and Crawford, all passed the fit, manager Calderwood made three changes to the team that beat Cowdenbeath on Tuesday night. Marco Ruitenbeek returned in goals, whilst Craig Brewster and Scott Walker replaced Gary Dempsey and Chris McGroarty in the starting eleven.
Aberdeen kicked off playing towards the Richard Donald Stand at the beach end, but it was Dunfermline who made the early running. Crawford set the ball up for his strike partner Brewster in two minutes, but the former Hibs man`s shot was blocked, and as Brewster attempted to regain possession, the home side were awarded a free kick following a foul.
In five minutes a shot from Barry Nicholson was blocked by the home defence at the expense of a corner. Kilgannon took the kick which was cleared by a defender. The youngster then deflected a Brewster cross goalwards, but his effort was easily gathered by Kjaer.
In a rare foray by Aberdeen to the Dunfermline end, a loose ball in the box saw the Aberdeen faithful appeal in hope for handball, but referee Somers remained unmoved. Dunfermline mounted a further attack, and following a Brewster flick, Scott Thomson shot over the bar from 20 yards. Play then returned to the visitors end, and a dangerous ball into the box by Mackie proved just too long for Billio. Skerla had to look sharp to head another Mackie cross back to Ruitenbeek, and a minute later, the big Dutch keeper was well positioned as a shot from Darren Young went straight into his arms.
Sean Kilgannon set off on a tremendous run, leaving three Aberdeen defenders trailing in his wake, before crossing for Bullen who headed just over the bar. In 19 minutes, a Kilgannon corner was cleared back out to the youngster. His return found Nicholson, who cut inside the defence before his shot was deflected clear for another corner to the Pars.
Aberdeen then attacked and Scott Wilson found himself caught out by a high ball down the flanks, which was picked up by Derek Young. The central defender recovered well, and the ball was put out for Aberdeen`s first corner of the game. Deloumeaux`s flag kick was headed out for a throw by Wilson.
That clearance was Wilson`s last involvement in the contest, as possibly still feeling the effects of the injury that threatened to rule him out of the game, he was substituted, being replaced by Steven Hampshire. The loss of Wilson forced Jimmy Calderwood into a reshuffle, and Lee Bullen moved back into defence to provide cover. Just a few minutes after entering the field, Hampshire required treatment following a challenge.
At this stage Aberdeen were coming more into the game, and in 34 minutes a shot by D`Jaffo was blocked by Thomson for a corner. Two minutes later, the same player had a shot that narrowly went past Marco`s post.
In 40 minutes, Stevie Crawford latched onto a through ball from Brewster, but the number nine`s shot lacked power and was easily gathered by Kjaer. Seconds later, a foul by Bisconti on Hampshire on the main stand side saw Dunfermline awarded a free kick. Kilgannon took the kick which found LEE BULLEN in the clear, and for the third time in three matches, Bully struck the ball into the back of the net to give the Pars a deserved lead. Almost immediately the Pars gained another free-kick in exactly the same position, which Kilgannon again took. This time the danger was cleared by the Dons defence.
With half time approaching Aberdeen attacked, and the ball reached the unmarked PATRICIO BILLIO just outside the box. The former Dundee man had plenty of time to tee up his shot, which Ruitenbeek got a hand to. Much to the dismay of the travelling support, rather than go over the bar, the ball dropped into the back of the net for the equaliser.
The goal was almost the last action of the half, and as they left the field for the break, the Dunfermline players must have been feeling a sense of injustice, that having been the better team for large parts of the first 45 minutes, their lead had now been wiped out.
Dunfermline returned to the field with Gary Dempsey replacing first half substitute Steven Hampshire, who had been injured during his short stay on the pitch. The early minutes of the second half was a ragged affair, and there were a succession of free-kicks to both sides which prevented play from flowing smoothly. In 54 minutes Brewster was spoken to by the referee after backing into Anderson, who took the resulting free-kick which caused the Dunfermline defence little concern. However one minute later, poor marking allowed LAURENT D`JAFFO to turn in the box, and from 18 yards he unleashed an unstoppable shot that Ruitenbeek could do little about as it thundered into the top right hand corner of the net, to give the home side the lead. The Frenchman was injured in the process, and left the field to an ovation form the Aberdeen support.
Having allowed a number of niggly fouls to go unpunished, referee Somers decided it was time to take some action, and Craig Brewster`s name was first to enter the book, closely followed by Scott Thomson for a high boot that felled Leon Mike. From McAllister`s free-kick, Anderson`s header was tipped round the post by Ruitenbeek.
In 64 minutes, with Scott Walker off the field receiving treatment, the Dunfermline defence failed to deal with a Deloumeaux corner, and McGuire flicked on for DEREK YOUNG to head into the net for Aberdeen`s third goal. Barry Nicholson then found himself the third Athletic player to enter the referee`s book, as Mr Somers took exception to his hefty challenge on goalscorer Young.
Substitute Dempsey forced a good save from Kjaer as he latched onto a through ball, and then the keeper had to move sharply to deal with a ball that had been left for him by his defence. The injured Walker left the field to be replaced by Chris McGroarty, just as a Mike shot looped past the post. Having booked three Dunfermline players, the referee then booked three Aberdeen players in quick succession, and Darren Young, Bisconti and Kjaer all received yellow cards.
Dunfermline desperately tried to salvage something from the game, but despite some good lead up play, they made little impression on the Aberdeen goal, and it seemed like the game would conclude without any further noteworthy incidents. However, with the full time whistle almost in sight, an innocuous challenge by Craig Brewster as he tried to win back a lost ball, saw the referee reach into his top pocket for a yellow card, and a red.
It was a disappointing end to a performance that wasn`t as bad as the scoreline suggests. Dunfermline deserved to take something from the game, but the turning point was undoubtedly Scott Wilson`s first half injury which forced reorganisation in defence.
So no record breaking this week, but recent performances suggest that there will be plenty more to come as the season unfolds.