Dunfermline 2 Dundee 0Saturday, 23rd Mar 2002
Top six clincher: Nicholson (33) 1-0: Crawford 2-0(52)
Dundee were the visitors for the 33rd league match of the 2001-2002 season. Dunfermline brought back Gus McPherson and the already released Justin Skinner and for this important match. Injured Seyni N’Diaye sat in the stand and Steven Hampshire was relegated to the bench. Pars fans filled the entire North Stand and there was a cup tie feeling as what seems like many more than 7299 spectators delayed the kick off for nine minutes to allow the turnstiles clear.
Marco was the first keeper in action clutching a Fabian Caballero ball in from the right in the third minute. Just two minutes later it was the post and not Julian Speroni that saved Dundee. Barry Nicholson sent the ball through to Lee Bullen charging down the right and into the penalty box. Lee’s shot was fierce but the ball rattled back off the left post.
The game had begun at a scorching pace and the Pars gradually started to take control of the match. Bullen set up Stevie Crawford on the left and he had a shot on target that Speroni saved.
Crawford next found Bullen on the right and he swung over a cross that Nicholson laid off to Ferguson on the edge of the box. Fergie chose to try and beat a defender instead of shooting and a good chance evaporated. It was all one way towards the Dundee goal and McPherson accepted a Ferguson pass to deliver a good cross that Walter Del Rio headed behind with Crawford challenging.
Chris McGroarty got laid into to the action with a great run through the right side of the visitors defence before passing to Gary Mason. The midfielder swung the ball left again for Bullen and the Pars then switched right for McPherson‘s ball to Mason to present an opportunity for a diving header from Crawford and yet again Speroni was to deny the Pars striker.
Despite all these chances coming and not being converted there was little doubt that Dunfermline’s opening would come and it duly did in the 33rd minute. Yet again it was a speedy move down the right with Bullen beating Del Rio before finding Craw on the edge of the box. Back to goal, his lay off back to Barry NICHOLSON was high but Barry chested it down and stuck a fine shot that looped into the far side of the net and sent East End Park delirious.
It was the 23 year old’s eighth goal of the season and it came in and up-and-down week for the player who was deeply disappointed at not being included in Berti Vogt’s squad. As always it is better to say it on the park and this goal was a gem that should have ignited pangs of regret for the national coach.
Hardly had the Dave Clark Five track stopped when Barry Nic sent another piledriver just outside the right goalpost. Just a minute from the interval Crawford beat the offside trap and Speroni did well to stand his ground and save the shot. When referee John Underhill sounded the half-time whistle the home support expressed appreciation for a great first half which had been peppered with plenty of pace and cohesive passing.
Half time: Dunfermline 1 Dundee 0
Those slow to return after the break missed Crawford almost doubling the lead when in the 39th second he rolled an effort just wide of the right upright. There where appeals for a penalty when Wilkie appeared to handle the ball as he hit the ground in the challenge with Crawford. The Pars tempo had not been toned down by the break and in the 52nd minute the East End Park cauldron boiled over again.
Bullen rose high to nod the ball on for CRAWFORD who homed in on goal from the right side and unleashed a shot that would boost his season’s tally to eight. Still it was one way traffic and after Scott Thomson won the ball in the centre circle a nice combination with Bullen and Crawford broke down with an interception on the pass to McPherson.
The Norrie McCathie Stand was in full song and Jimmy Calderwood accepted the vociferous invitation to give them away.
After 20 minutes of the second-half the pressure eased back as Dundee introduced Dave MacKay. The sub almost scored right away with a shot that Marco saved diving to his right. John Underhill ignored a probable red card offence when the North Stand side assistant referee raised his flag after Del Rio appeared to pull down Bullen.
Khemas replaced Cabalerro in the 73rd minute and he forced Thomson to concede a corner which Beto Carranza took. Marco missed the punch out and when the ball reached, the lucky-still-to-be on the pitch, Del Rio his blistering shot cleared the crossbar when he might of found the net easier to hit.
Another Dundee corner was strongly punched away by Marco but Ferguson’s foul on the edge of the box raised the nervousness creeping into the East End Park. Ketsbaia’s free kick was well blocked out by Nicholson and next a Torres cross picked out Juan Sara who could only have been 5 yards out when he blasted his chance over the bar.
New signing, Andre Karnebeek came on to make his Pars debut but it was his fellow countryman Marco Ruitenbeek who was immense in defence. The big man commanded his area and was blessed with luck as well. Great rejoicing at full time and it was a performance worthy of every bit of the applause.
Dunfermline`s victory over Dundee meant that the Pars make the top six for the first time since the system was introduced.
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DUNFERMLINE: Marco Ruitenbeek: Andrius Skerla, Justin Skinner, Scott Thomson: Gus McPherson, Barry Nicholson, Ian Ferguson (Andre Karnebeek 78), Gary Mason, Chris McGroarty, Lee Bullen, Stevie Crawford (Steven Hampshire 86)
SUBS NOT USED: Jason Dair, Colin Nish, Scott Y Thomson (GK)
SCORERS: Nicholson (33), Crawford (52)
YELLOW CARD: McPherson (85)
DUNDEE: Julian Speroni: Barry Smith, Walter del Rio, Enrique Kiki Torres, Lee Wilkie, Javier Artero (Dave Mackay 68), Gavin Rae, Temuri Ketsbaia, Massimo Baghetto (Beto Carranza 45), Fabian Caballero (Khalid Khemas 73), Juan Sara
SUBS NOT USED: Beto Garrido, Jamie Langfield (GK
REFEREE: John Underhill
NEXT MATCH: SPL (home) v Aberdeen, Saturday 6th April 2002, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park
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