SPL v Dundee
DUNFERMLINE 4 DUNDEE 2 Date: 17/08/02
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 5901, Kick Off: 15:00
Dunfermline entered East End Park to great acclaim from their appreciative supporters who were anxious to get confirmation that last Saturday`s performance against Livingston could be repeated against Jim Duffy`s Dundee.
Jimmy Calderwood went with the same starting line up in two consecutive matches for the first time since October 2001. He altered the bench to bring in Gus MacPherson, Davie Nicholls and new boy Scott Wilson; meaning no places for Stewart Petrie, Scott Walker and George Fotheringham.
Dundee had Caballero back as the Pars kicked off towards a travelling support at least double that of Livvys. The first seven minutes produced several good chances for the Pars and it was four and a half minutes before Marco even touched the ball.
Initial danger came from Stevie Crawford whose shot from a Hampshire cross was blocked by the Dundee captain Barry Smith. Then a foul by Wilkie on Craig Brewster provided a free kick that the big man took himself and directed across the box for Georgi Nemsadze to head out only as far as Lee Bullen who shot hard but again the effort was blocked.
Dunfermline steamed in and in the fourth minute a nice move from Brewster through Dempsey to Crawford saw the latter chip the ball across the six yard box from the right byeline and Dempsey met it 5 yards out but headed over the crossbar.
Ruitenbeek did get in on the play but easily saved at Sara`s feet after Nacho Novo had played him into the box. Play switched back to the Dundee end and in the seventh minute Dair struck a Brewster lay off from 25 yards that hit the top of the net, but on the wrong side.
Crawford and Brewster sent Hampshire up the right and his close pass to Nicholson inside the Dundee six yard box was whipped away from Barry by the covering back Caballero. In the 16th minute Kilgannon skinned Mair for the second time and the cross again looked destined for Nicholson in good position but a timely defensive header conceded a corner.
Dunfermline were motoring but they just couldn`t score. Dempsey had another great chance after Crawford beat his man out on the left and set up the Irishman with a 20 yard drive that hit the perimeter advertising behind the goals. You had to feel that Dunfermline might pay for the near things with nothing to show for it.
Jonay Hernandez served a warning on the Fifers when his angled shot from only 6 yards out was saved by the feet of Marco. Then just two minutes later the Pars defence was left with a gaping hole as Caballero set up NOVO who netted from just inside the penalty box with 22 minutes gone.
Novo in particular reeked havoc on the Pars defence and Hernandez got in on the act too as he got the better of Hampshire and sent a tantalising ball through the Pars six yard box with no takers. Worse could have been recorded in the 28th minute when Novo netted again only to have the `goal` disallowed by Referee Iain Brines as the young striker`s rounding of Skerla had been deemed to be by means of tugging at the defender`s shirt.
Many a referee would have given the goal and the points could have settled with an hour to go. Dunfermline accepted the let off and eventually took advantage. Dempsey latched on to a mis-hit by Lee Wilkie and Barry Smith had to handle the ball as he won the ball away from the wee man and so earned the first yellow card of the game.
Hampshire fought hard on the right to get over a cross but Sean Kilgannon completely lost it at the far post when the net was beckoning. The home support did not have to wait much longer though as Gary Dempsey found himself on the right wing to cross for Stevie CRAWFORD on the angle of the six yard box. The header was away from Speroni and neatly placed in the left side of the goals.
The defence remained static as Crawford`s 34th minute beauty sent East End Park wild.
Just before half time Sean Kilgannon should have given the Pars an interval advantage but his header from a Nicholson cross went over the crossbar. The move was typical of the perfection in Dunfermline`s play. A pass back from Skerla to Ruitenbeek had started a move through Brewster and Hampshire that had ended with Kilgannon`s miss without a single Dundee player touching the ball.
Half Time 1-1
Brewster created the first danger of the second 45 when having chased the ball down the left he got the ball back for Dair to send into the box but Wilkie stepped in to clear. It was Dundee who then took the upper hand forcing three corners by the time in the 52nd minute Wilkie almost headed in at the far post from a corner on the left. The ball was hit high over the Pars defence and Marco saved falling to the ground on the goalline.
It was Novo`s poor pass that then sent Hampshire up the right wing to feed the ball through Crawford to Nicholson. Barry`s shot was touched wide by Speroni. Nicholson next swung over a ball from the right that Kilgannon failed to cash in on. Dempsey got a shot in but the rebound fell to Dair whose shot won a free kick 25 yards out.
Scott Thomson drove the set piece into the wall and Dundee immediately broke up field. The last defender Andrius Skerla was beaten inside the Dundee half and as Novo raced forward Marco Ruitenbeek came out from his goals.
The run was not the best decision as it happened. Forty yards out NOVO flicked the ball right as the flying Dutchman arrived and as Nicholson raced back to close down the ex Rovers favourite, the ball was struck into the empty net.
With 30 minutes to go there was still belief in the Pars players that they could get the goals back. Skerla led the charge out of defence as another Dundee corner was broken up and his ball to Brewster sent Crawford racing down the left. Nicholson had sprinting into a position in the centre of the penalty box but Crawford decided to shoot only to be shut out.
Nicholson fired another effort over the crossbar before Jimmy Calderwood made his first substitution of the match introducing Scott Wilson in 62 minutes. Jason Dair came off and the shape looked more like 2-5-3. Bullen was immediately up to nod down at the far post as Kilgannon sent over a fine ball after Dempsey had picked him out.
Scott Thomson`s header from a Nicholson free kick should have been converted by Kilgannon but seconds later East End Park was again "Glad All Over". Kilgannon yet again got the better of his marker to pick out BREWSTER surprisingly lightly shadowed to head home from 8 yards out.
All square again at two each with 68 minutes gone but what happened next could not have been predicted. Yes, despite twice being behind, the Pars did look as though they were capable of winning but to win by two clear goals probably "flattered" the Pars as Jimmy Calderwood later remarked.
Brewster fired against the defence after Dempsey let Kilgannon`s pass run through him. Thomson and Dempsey had 20+ yard shots over the top before a simple ball from Brewster sent CRAWFORD in again. The Pars striker bagged his second by lifting the ball over Julian Speroni with the home support screaming at the desperate Dens parkers attempts to prevent the ball bouncing across the line.
CRAWFORD`s hat trick in the 85th minute was sweet revenge to Stevie as his shot from 20 yards out hit the right upright and rebounded off the back of Speroni and into the net.
The answer to the question of the day is: Hamish French v Ayr United 10/12/94 was the last league hat-trick scored by the Pars.
The Dundee keeper had controversially caused Crawford to be sent off at Dens Park back in February this year but this time it was Speroni who shone red.
Dundee`s Novo was on a hat trick too but his frustration earned him an 82nd minute yellow card followed by another four minutes later to ensure that Dundee finished the game with just ten men.
Comfortable victory for the Pars in the end. Sufficient superlatives cannot overstate the fantastic football served up by this Dunfermline team. A joy to watch with confidence and determination throughout. This was first class entertainment; the plot was pumped up by allowing a decent Dundee team to lead twice but the come back and execution was both thrilling and satisfying.
More of the same please!