Dunfermline Athletic 2 - 1 DundeeAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Tuesday, 30th Mar 2010
The quality of the game belied the conditions –on a foul night at East End Park, Dunfermline put on a heart-warming display to defeat Dundee and thereby maintain their slight interest in the promotion shake up, but Greg Paterson suffers a heart-breaking injury.
Some nights you’d rather be snug and warm indoors, sipping something warming and watching the updates on DAFC.net, especially if work demands leave you feeling both inappropriately dressed and like you’ve contracted hypothermia in the dash from the car to the ground. However, a brief detour to the club shop to purchase another Pars hat and scarf (a snip at £12) and one Stephens’ bridie later, I felt more up for it. The question was – which of the two sides, both having suffered recent disappointment, would be more up for it in what were horrible conditions?
The pitch looked to be retaining water, but the officials seemed disinterested in the weather – swirling, sleeting wind that had me wiping snowflakes off my notebook at the back of the Norrie - and the game was most definitely on. There was even some unpredictability in the team line up for a change – Higgins surprisingly gave way to McGregor, Woods came in to the right of midfield, Ross moved to right back, and there was a first start for Ross Campbell alongside McDougall up front as the Pars reverted to a 4-4-2. Cardle was suspended and Phinn had disappointed in Dumfries so he was on the bench, but Bell was back, and Paterson retained the No. 1 jersey. Thus the Pars started with Paterson; Ross, Dowie, McGregor and McCann; Woods, Mason, Bell and Gibson; Campbell and McDougall. Dundee started with what looked like a 4-3-2-1 with Harkins and banana-booted Leigh Griffiths playing between a mid-field 3 and lone striker Hutchinson.
The Pars got off to a flyer, taking the lead in 5 minutes. Campbell found possession in space, sent McDougall free on the right, and his driven cross found Gibson unmarked beyond the far post, 8 yards out. He had to score, surely? Even though the Dees got men back on the line, Willie stuck it away to Bullock’s right. 1-0 Pars.
In 12 minutes Gibson got room to whip a ball into the back post which Woods got on the end of, but Bullock managed to grab. Down at the other end Paterson was quick off his line to dive at the feet of Richie Hart (although the linesman’s flag was raised for offside) and Griffiths managed to spin Ross in 21 minutes but took the ball too wide before hitting it wider still.
Gibson outpaced Paton a minute later to cross to the near post where O’Leary nearly turned the ball into his own net in an effort to get ahead of Campbell but Bullock did well to stop. The next minute Gibson was again scything through the Dundee defence, but with a chance to shoot, laid off to Campbell, who was in a better position, but he dragged his shot wide. Gibson was on fire, but others were doing well too – Bell seemed to be everywhere, and the players were constantly supporting each other, McGregor tackling the danger man Harkins and Mason being on hand to sweep up the danger. But disaster struck on the half hour. A moment’s hesitation between Dowie and Paterson allowed Hutchison the chance to try to charge down the young keeper’s clearance; he was a fraction late, and a fraction high, and clattered the keeper. You could tell it was bad, the way Greg’s leg was hanging, the way Hutchinson had his face in his hands, and the urgency with which the stretcher was summoned.
Fleming thus came on in difficult circumstances, and almost immediately had to deal with a tricky loose ball, but Ross had managed to impede Griffiths enough to reduce the danger. Any sagging spirits were lifted immediately by a tremendous goal from Bell hwoever. Thirty yards out, he hit an absolute screamer into the top corner leaving Bullock helpless – it was one of those goals that is in all the way, and from far enough out that you’ve time to enjoy it before it hits the net. 2-0 Pars.
Gibson kept up his torment of the defence, Paton being booked for a blatant body-check, but Hutchinson looked to have his own torment, being roundly booed any time he got near the ball, and there was clear concern from the subs warming up and the stream of friends, relatives and teammates disappearing up the tunnel to offer support as an ambulance took Paterson off to the hospital.
Half Time: Pars 2 Dees 0
The visitors made a triple substitution at half time – Paton (who had been torn to shreds by Gibson), Hutchinson (predictably, and for everyone’s benefit, not least his own) and MacKenzie (injured) were replaced by Higgins, Shinnie and ex-Par McKeown, with Hart now given the task of snuffing out the Pars threat down the left. These changes quietened the Pars and Dundee began to enjoy the bulk of possession without threatening particularly. Griffiths had one run which left McCann and Dowie in his wake, until he was forced away from danger, and the Dees were reduced to trying their luck from distance. Fleming spilled a swerving Hart shot in the 47th minute (although Griffiiths was off-side) but otherwise had little to do, and the Pars seemed content to hit on the break.