SPL v Motherwell


Attendance: 4462, Kick Off: 3:00pm.

Referee: Euan Norris

East End Park was in prime condition for the first meeting between Dunfermline Athletic and Motherwell since May 2007.  Back then both teams minds were on a relegation battle but this time it was happily a different story. A win would take the Pars to the top of the Premier League for the first time since November 1989 and a draw would be enough to take the Fir Park club back into pole position.  All that would change presumably when the Old Firm games were played on Sunday.

Andy Barrowman came in for David Graham in the only change from the Dunfermline team that started at Tannadice. Shaun Hutchinson dropped out in Motherwell`s one alteration to the team that lost to Rangers. The visitors kicked off attacking the goal at the town end and retained possession for the opening two minutes. Dunfermline found it hard to get much time on the ball and except for a Cardle run their task remained purely defensive.

Not surprisingly it was the Steelmen who forced the first corner in six minutes but the defence held. Four minutes later Chris Humphrey caught up with the ball on the byeline to cut back but Alex Keddie intercepted with Higdon waiting at the far post. Motherwell were to take the lead in 11 minutes when Jamie Murphy set up a chance between Higdon and Lasley. Michael HIGDON beat his team mate to stick the ball into the bottom left from 12 yards out.

Gallacher came to the Pars rescue five minutes later after Humphrey again raced down the left to deliver a dangerous cross that the green stripped keeper took off the head of Higdon.  Andy Barrowman took the ball in a challenge 30 yards out but Motherwell were awarded a free kick in 21minutes.  Tom Hateley struck an effort at goal and the deflection off the Dunfermline wall took the ball on to Gallacher`s right hand post.

Motherwell were in complete command and extended their lead in 26 minutes when Jamie MURPHY finished a penetrating run from 30 yards out  by drilling the ball with the help of a deflection, into the Pars net off Keddie.  The luckless Keddie was yellow carded in concededing another free kick and Motherwell continued to keep the pressure on the Fifers.

As half time approached Dunfermline had better territorial advantage and Cardle won their first corner kick of the game in 37 minutes but the former Airdrie man`s inswinger from the left was punched clear. Andy Kirk was penalised for the challenge on the keeper.

Chris Humphrey terrorised the left side of the home defence who fortuntely held out and went in two goals down. It had been a great first half from Motherwell and the Pars really needed to take a firmer grip of the game, if their unbeaten SPL record was going to last.

Half Time: Dunfermline 0 Motherwell 2

The second half started with a little more Pars promise; Barrowman got deep down the right but his cross towards the six yard box was intercepted.  Nevertheless the home fans were spurred into song for the first time in the game.

David Graham,was introduced for Barrowman after just eight minutes and immediately Kirk got the better of Stephen Craigan but his cross was turned behind for a corner.  Cardle`s delivery was cleared and play swept quickly to the other end.  HUMPHREY cut in from the right brushing aside the challenges of McCann and Keddie before firing the ball on to the far post and into the net.

Graham took the pressure off with an attacking move that delivered the ball into the box but Motherwell were not to be troubled. Graham, Cardle and Kirk combined and earned a 61st minute corner. Before that was taken Jim McIntyre made a double substitution with Paul Willis in his SPL debut and Ryan Thomson taking over from Mason and Burns.

The corner and then a Cardle free kick after Craigan flattened Willis, were both easily stopped.  Motherwell keeper Randolph dived forward to cut out a Willis cross as the Pars continued to be frustrated by their opponents. Then in 69 minutes sub David Graham gave Dunfermline something to cheer up their fans when his shot from 23 yards out took a deflection off CARDLE to claw a goal back.

Graham tormented the defence again taking the ball left to allow himself a cross that unluckily found no one. Willis had a surging run but overhit the push forward, then Cardle crossed from the right and this time Kirk headed the ball on target but straight into Randolph`s hands.  Things looked better for McIntyre`s team as they tried for another goal that could make the final minutes tough for the visitors.

An 80th minute cross from the left again by Graham created a chance when Kirk turned the ball back into the path of Jason Thomson but it was on his left foot and he hammered the chance over the bar.  Hateley impeded Cardle as he raced on to a long ball but nothing was given.  Then the Pars no.7 took on the defence and opted to shoot but failed to hit the target.

In 88 minutes a break from Willis on the centre line sent CARDLE into the box and his shot took a deflection off Craigan to make it 2-3. This might have created an exciting finale but within two minutes however, Motherwell restored their two goal lead.  Humphrey again made the space on the right fed Nicky Law who laid the ball into the six yard box where HIGDON slid in to score the Lanarkshire side`s fourth goal of the afternoon.

DUNFERMLINE: Paul Gallacher, Jason Thomson, Andy Dowie, Alex Keddie, Austin McCann (c); Paul Burns (Paul Willis 61), Gary Mason (Ryan Thomson 61), Martin Hardie, Joe Cardle; Andy Barrowman (David Graham 53), Andy Kirk.
SUBS NOT USED: Chris Smith (GK), Kevin Rutlkiewicz, Liam Buchanan, Kerr Young.
YELLOW CARD: Burns (23), Keddie (28)
SCORER: Cardle (69, 88)

MOTHERWELL: Darren Randolph; Tom Hateley, Tim Glancy, Stephen Craigan (c), Steven Hammell; Chris Humphrey, Keith Lasley, Steven Jennings, Nicky Law; Michael Higdon, Jamie Murphy
SUBS NOT USED: Stuart Carswell, Jonathan Page, Robert McHugh, Steven Lawless, Ross Forbes, Jordan Halsman, Lee Hollis (GK).
SCORER: Higdon (11, 90), Murphy (26), Humphrey (55)
YELLOW CARD: Craigan (64)

WEATHER: Fine but rain towards the end, 14C

NEXT MATCH: (home) Fife Cup Semi Final v Raith Rovers
Tuesday 30th August 2011, kick off 7.00pm