SPL v Livingston


Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League

Attendance: 4751, Kick Off: 15:00

Referee: W Young, Weather: bright 18C

By virtue of scoring three goals in their opening match at home to Motherwell the Livingston circus arrived at East End Park as league leaders. Dunfermline`s act as lion tamers would not be easy against the club out to retain their title as runners up to the Old Firm last season.

Jimmy Calderwood juggled his side bringing in Gary Dempsey for the injured Gary Mason and deploying Lee Bullen in the centre of defence. The Livvy Lions were without captain Stuart Lovell and Emmanual Corrado as they took on their last Scottish opponents before their debut in the UEFA Cup in Liechtenstein on Tuesday. Had it not been for Gary Bollan at the back Livingston would have fielded a team totally bereft of Scotsmen.

The visitors had the first attempt at goal when in the 2nd minute a Juanjo Camacho free kick was palmed away right hand by Marco Ruitenbeek. The Pars first shot came from a free kick as well. Gary Dempsey was floored by Eugene Dadi and the set piece tapped by Kilgannon to Nicholson was softly struck in by Scott Thomson for Broto to collect.

It was a shaky start by Livingston who defence at times tried to simulate tightrope practice without the safety net. In the 16th minute there were nearly fatal consequences. A great move started by Craig Brewster on midway was played through Dempsey to Kilgannon on the left wing. He swung over a cross that Stevie Crawford headed over but had he failed to connect Brewster was waiting to hammer home.

The home fans applauded the constructive play out of defence as next Hampshire`s ball to Brewster was laid through for Crawford to run diagonally into the box and force another fine save from Broto. The Pars were on fire and the tame Lions seemed to dodge the flames. Crawford received another Brewster pass on 20 minutes which he shot just outside the right goalpost from 20 yards.

An even better chance then fell to Sean Kilgannon as he found his way behind the Livingston defence and left with just Broto to beat. Running in on the keeper he elected to shoot but the Broto blocked the Par`s 20 yard shot.

Zarate had a well struck effort that ran wide of the right post before the pressure was back on the visitors goal. Dair and Dempsey were involved in a move that put Steve Hampshire in a goal scoring position. His shot rebounded back off Broto and his subsequent cross went out left without a touch from either side.

Hardly had Livingston cleared when Brewster sent through CRAWFORD and yet again the Livingston defence was suspect. Andrews and Rubio parted like a trapeze act and the Pars striker revelled in the chance to bulge the net from the edge of the box. One nil up, 28 minutes on the clock.

Hampshire tried again to get get in on the act when a curling shot from 20 yards just went wide of the left post. Crawford then had a fine run down the right that set up a Hampshire cross which Brewster was unlucky to head wide on the right side.

Camacho replied for Livvy running down the right flank and evading Lee Bullen before shooting wide from 20 yards. The Pars ended the half the strongest. Sean Kilgannon beat two men out on the left before sending in a strong ball for Hampshire on the far side of the box that was returned for Dempsey`s benefit but the ball just stayed up too high for the young Irishman to repeat his scoring debut both home and away.

The ball was cleared only as far as Andrius Skerla and Brewster was unhappy as he miscued on the edge of the box.

The second 45 started with Jason Dair shooting in but just too far left. Then with only five minutes of the half gone Hasmpshire sent Crawford down the right and his ball in for Craig BREWSTER provided the simplest of goals to make it 2-0.

Willie Young frantically waved on Pip Yeates to supply treatment to Gary Dempsey as he was felled by Andrews but surprisingly the Livvy no.5 was only given a tongue lashing. The free kick was directed towards Crawford and the headed interception went only as far as Hampshire whose shot was gathered by Broto at the second attempt.

Another free kick found Lee Bullen and his backheeler almost gave Brewster a second but the striker just couldn`t pull the trigger. Cheriff provided Livvy`s only response as he shot only for Ruitenbeek to deflect the ball out to the right.

Dunfermline might have been further ahead given the number of first half chances but in the 68th minute they should have been three up. Crawford collected the ball 15 yards inside the opposition half and split Andrews and Rubio again to run in on goal. He released an angled shot which beat the keeper but rebounded out off the right upright. Dair finished the move by shooting a Brewster lay off wide.

With twenty minutes remaining the Pars demonstrated patience as Brewster, Walker and Dair waited for the moment to take the play forward. Brewster`s ball up the right was perfect for Kilgannon but his cross was too high for Hampshire to convert.

There were two free kicks on the right in quick succession. Firstly Kilgannon`s was headed out for Crawford to shoot and then Nicholson`s was nearly converted by both Walker and Thomson at the far post;. the latter`s header dropping safely into Broto`s mitts.

There was a big welcome for Chris McGroarty as he entered the ring for his first appearance since March. Sporting a new haircut the young U21 call up oozed confidence as he calmly played his way into the match.

Attention focussed on an agony delivering tackle on Scott Thomson from Camacho as with 85 minutes gone, Crawford took the play up the left and delayed just too long before shooting so allowing Oscar Rubio to block.

Livingston`s consolation goal came with 93 minutes of the game gone. A simple ball into the penalty box caught Skerla on the wrong side of Xausa and the substitute turned the ball in from the right side of the six yard box to register a misleadingly close scoreline.

After 49 minutes 20 seconds of the second half Willie Young called it a day Calderwood was ringmaster and his players and fans celebrated a well deserved victory.

A good showing for the Pars which augurs well for the rest of the season. Bullen was immense at centre half; new signing Scott Wilson must be glad that Bully can be deployed almost anywhere! Brewster and Crawford showed signs of understanding that other SPL defences are going to dread.

RAC Auto Windscreens Man of the Match award was presented to Craig Brewster.