Dundee 1 - 0 Dunfermline AthleticAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 3rd Jan 2009
A fine Paton free-kick mid-way through the second half was enough to win a match that never really got going in terms of excitement.
With Harper out for six weeks and Bayne laid low with a stomach complaint Jim McIntyre was forced into a couple of changes for the first game of the new year, but pre-match doubt Woods was passed fit. And so the Pars team that lined up seeking to defend a long unbeaten away-from-home record was:
Gallacher in goals, a back four of Woods, Shields, Wilson and Muirhead; a midfield quartet of Ross on the right, Glass, Bell and Phinn on the left, and a forward duo of Loy and Kirk. Former Pars boss Jocky Scott opted for a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Eric Paton patrolling in front of the back 4 and Colin McMenamin ploughing a lone furrow up front.
With a congested midfield the match was slow to catch light, the early "highlight" being the enforced replacement of the match ball. The Pars won a corner in 6 minutes, and the ball was fed to Glass who blazed over from distance. The visitors continued to have the better of the opening exchanges but when Kirk hit the bye-line in 8 minutes there were no takers for his cut back.
Dundee hit back in 10 minutes but the problems were of the Pars own making - Wilson chose to pass inside to Glass on his own bye-line but his clearance was charged down and when Woods was robbed it took a last-ditch tackle by Wilson to clear the danger.
A neat move involving Ross and Wood set up Glass from distance with the first shot on target but Douglas saved comfortably, a feat he repeated in 13 minutes to pouch a weak Kirk header from a Ross cross and again a minute later with a swerving 30 yarder from Bell.
A couple of minutes later the Pars were given a soft free-kick on the right touch-line bit when Glass swung the ball in no fewer than 6 Pars players were caught offside.
The replacement match ball was itself replaced in 18 minutes, to the 4th official’s bemusement, with the BBC match reporter describing the action as akin to a "game of chess". The fans were roused slightly from their torpor midway through the half as Malone’s run from full back was halted by his old sparring partner Woods’ heel. Shinnie’s driven free-kick was deflected by Shields over the bar for a corner which was defended, and as Muirhead allowed the ball to run out lineswoman Morag Pirie (who had awarded the Pars a penalty in the Challenge Cup final at the same venue) gave another corner - this one was dealt with comfortably.
Lauchlan whistled a header just past in 29 minutes from a Shinnie free-kick when he might have done better, and following a Phinn shot from a Pars breakaway the half ended with a stramash from which Gallacher made his first real save of the half.
Half time: an eminently forgettable Dees 0 Pars 0
No substitutions at half time and the second half continued in the same vein as the first, with little to write home about. Home manager Scott was first to make a change, adding MAC (Mickael Antoine Curier) to the attack in place of Pozniak as he switched to a more traditional 4-4-2 in 54 minutes in an effort to be more positive. Sure enough, Dundee created the game’s next chance albeit at the wrong end, as Rab Douglas, with all the time in the world to deal with a pass-back, comically got the ball tangled in his feet as Rory Loy approached at speed, before digging the ball out and evading the Par’s forward’s lunge by a whisker. A good interchange between Phinn and Kirk set Ross up on the right but his cross along the 6 yard line was cleared and after Bell went down rather easily 35 yards out, Glass tried his luck with the free kick, but was too far out to worry Douglas.