SPL v Dundee United
DUNDEE UNITED 1 DUNFERMLINE 2 Date: 14/09/02
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 6041, Kick Off: 15:00
Record breakers could at last, have found a replacement for the late Roy Castle. With the 41 year Easter Road hoodoo extinguished, this victory over Dundee United brings only the first back to back away wins in the Premier League since January 1991 and leave only Motherwell to negotiate in next week`s match to claim a twelve month record of not losing at home to anyone other than the Old Firm.
Jimmy Calderwood elected to field the same starting line up as won 4-1 at Easter Road on Wednesday and Dundee United too started with the same eleven that won at Pittodrie in midweek.
Glorious sunshine bathed the North side of the pitch as United kicked off down the Tannadice slope. The home team made it very difficult for the Pars to get early possession and when they did they were forced into errors that gave the ball away.
In the third minute Scotland striker Stephen Thompson headed over the crossbar from just outside the penalty box. Two minutes later Mark Wilson beat off Scott Wilson to get in a 25 yard shot that went straight into the arms of Marco Ruitenbeek.
Dunfermline really had still to get into the match when in the 9th minute Gary DEMPSEY put the Pars ahead. A Scott Thomson free kick on the left side of the pitch was directed out right for Lee Bullen whose header was touched on by Craig Brewster to the Irishman in the D at the front of the penalty box.
The goal brought confidence and composure to the Pars and five minutes later the goalscorer sent the ball wide for Bullen who took the return from Brewster and looked like scoring until a United defender made a timely tackle.
Motherwell manager, Terry Butcher watching from the South Stand, will have noted the similarity of the 16th minute goal to the first. A Scott Thomson free kick was swept wide to the left where Scott Walker headed down in the direction of Stevie Crawford. Crawford dummied it, letting the ball run on to Brewster.
The challenge for the United defence dispossessed Brewster but teed up CRAWFORD. Stevie collected and fired home into the bottom left from 15 yards out.
Gary Mason was yellow carded for bringing Charlie Miller down on the edge of the box and the ex Rangers and Watford midfielder flashed the effort just over the crossbar.
Dundee United continued to go forward, looking at times like a 2-4-4 formation so much a trademark of Calderwood`s Dunfermline. The Pars were pushed back as both Stuart Duff on the right and Warren Cummings on the left flank pushed forward. It was a Stevie Crawford clearance out of defence that almost set up a third.
Crawford`s ball to Mason was quickly switched right by Mason wide for Bullen. Lee was allowed down the right to cross for Barry Nicholson at the far post. Only a corner was won and then it was back to Dundee United attack.
Lilley had a left footed shot from 18 yards that just cleared the crossbar and then in 37th minute there was some disquiet in the ranks when Mason hauled down Jim Lauchlan on the edge of the box. The Pars no. 8 was living dangerously as he already had collected a yellow and Lee Bullen and he had a go at one another. Craig Brewster stepped in to separate them but the peacemaker almost got dragged into it all as well!
Wilson fired in a good ball and Lilley met the cross with a good header from 18 yards that went wide. Two minutes from half time Charlie Miller beat four men as he almost ran through the entire Pars defence. Fortunately his shot from 12 yards was soft and wide left.
On the stroke of half time Craig Brewster had a curling shot from 12 yards after a fine ball was sent over from the left by Gary Dempsey.
Half Time: Dundee United 0 Dunfermline 2
A slip in the heart of the Dunfermline defence by Scott Wilson left Derek LILLEY in to reduce the deficit. Miller had played a longish ball down the left wing that Cummings crossed for the goal. It was a bad goal to lose and although Wilson screwed up video evidence might reveal where the rest of the defence were.
The goal was hardly unexpected but it made the remaining forty minutes rather uncomfortable. United continued to apply the pressure and on the hour there were penalty claims when Wilson tackled Duff inside the box.
No penalty but then almost a goal. Then a great chance for United when Thompson deep inside the Pars penalty box crossed into the six yard box only for Lee Bullen to perform heroics and somehow get the ball away. A certain goal was saved and the luck was beginning to rub in the Fifers favour.
After 64 minutes a Bullen throw in was played swiftly into the path of Crawford by Brewster and having avoided the offside trap Stevie tried a shot at the near post and Paul Gallacher deflected for a corner.
Alex Smith brought on Jim Paterson for Wilson before Brewster and Dempsey were replaced by Hampshire and Kilgannon. The United sub had two good chances within his first ten minutes on the pitch. Firstly he was just wide with a shot from the edge of the box. Then Marco had a great right footed save from the sub after Miller had split the defence.
Marco Ruitenbeek was certainly busy thwarting Thompson at close quarters following another Duff cross from the right. Next it was Lauchlan whose head was on the end of a Duff cross and yet again Marco parried to save.
Dunfermline were under increasing pressure lifted only when Crawford burst up the left wing but having failed to get a shot in his clever backheeler for Kilgannon was read quicker by the Dundee United defence. Stevie then left the field to be replaced by Jason Dair.
In the last ten minutes as United seemed to accept that defeat was imminent Thomson was forward to swing over a cross from the right corner post but too high for the charging Walker.
The two added minutes of time were negotiated to complete a successful four days that leaves the Pars joint third in the SPL with Kilmarnock.
A good hard working team effort. Crawford and Brewster continue to generate calls for their joint international inclusion. Nicholson, Mason and Dempsey did a power of work in midfield and the deployment of height on the flanks continues to look like a good idea. The defence lived dangerously and were resolute to the end while Marco was the Man of the match with some fantastic saves.
Further evidence then that Calderwood`s team can reach new heights. Lets hope the breaks keep coming and the records continue to fall.