SPL v Livingston


On BBC Sportscene`s lunchtime preview Craig Brown declared himself as Jim Leishman`s biggest fan. Although Big Leish had fans all around Almondvale the numbers on both sides failed to generate a big Yuletide crowd for the Pars meeting with the SPL`s surprise package of the season.

Leish was cast in the role of Santa by the Beeb but this was not the season of goodwill as far as entertainment was concerned. The leftovers on Tuesday night are likely to be more appealing than the scrap that took place at Almondvale.

Dunfermline were led out by Ian Ferguson who starts a three match suspension starting on Boxing Day. Gary Mason and Justin Skinner came into the side for Chris McGroarty and the injured Steven Hampshire.

The match was slow to get going and it was the 8th minute before there was any action worthy of noting. After a good build up Scott Thomson got the ball out to Stewart Petrie on the left wing and Gary Mason rose on the far side of the box but headed wide of Culkin`s right hand post.

A minute later Nathan Lowndes put Carlos Aurellio through the middle and as Gus MacPherson challenged the Livingston no.15 chipped high over the bar.

Five minutes passed before Nicholson crossed one into the Livingston box that Andrews only cleared to Petrie. Stewart`s cross back in was headed on target by Nicholson but the keeper saved relatively easily falling to his right.

Disaster almost struck in the 16th minute when Togo national Cherrif Maman got away from Nicholson and executed a fine right footed shot from inside the D on the edge of the visitors penalty box. The ball rebounded strongly off the upright near its join with the crossbar and the Pars defence were happy to clear the danger.

When Scott Thomson went in on the 17th minute the game`s first foul was committed. But the next minute a Dunfermline free kick was quickly taken by Ian Ferguson and Culkin did well to block out Stevie Crawford.

Scott Thomson cleared a Rubio effort from Aurellio`s corner and then a Aurellio free kick was headed out by MacPherson only as far as Quino who struck over the crossbar.

On 39 minutes Ian Ferguson chipped the ball over the Livvy defence to Lee Bullen who sent a right footed volley wide of the keeper`s right hand post. At the other end Andrews was on the end of another Aurellio corner but Marco Ruitenbeek was out to dramatically punch clear.

Two minutes before half time Stewart Petrie flighted over a free kick from the right but Ian Ferguson`s header was well wide of the mark to the right. Then only a minute before the interval came Dunfermline`s best chance of the half when Crawford turned the ball for Bullen.

Lee challenged and won the ball on the edge of the box but his shot from 10 yards out was saved by Culkin and the reboiund was smashed into the right sidenetting by Steve Crawford.

Dunfermline kicked off the second half playing north to south with their supporters behind and to the left of them. While Livingston had much of the first half play, Dunfermline looked more like themselves in the second.

On 52 minutes Skerla and Nicholson played the ball out right for Lee Bullen who crossed from near the byeline for Petrie at the near post. Petrie`s header fell just wide of the keeper`s left hand post with the Pars man sustaining an injury in the process. Jason Dair came on for him only two minutes later.

Fernadez sent Lowndes through on the 61st minute and Scott Thomson did well to make a speedy interception. Crawford produced two fine crosses from the right into the opposition box, the second being narrowly missed by Lee Bullen and Gary Mason. The ball seemed to actually go behind off a Livvy player but no corner was awarded.

Ten minutes later Crawford put Nicholson out to the corner flag and the cross was narrowly headed over the crossbar from 6 yards by Jason Dair. A Livingston clearance that spun off the back of one of their own defenders dropped for Crawford in the 76th minute but somewhat taken by surprise the Pars striker sclaffed the ball and with that went Dunfermline`s hopes of any winner.

The rest of the match saw three good Livingston chances. A cross from substitute Barry Wilson was back headed by Rubio and Ruitenbeek pulled out a great save to concede a corner. One minute into the three added minutes at the end, a good Aurellio free kick was headed over the bar by Rubio and at the very end in the 94th minute Nathan Lowndes might have stolen the points when he got his head to a Didier Santini cross from the left. The ex Saintee headed wide and Bobby Orr called it a day without logging a single goal.

Dunfermline looked happy to collect the point. Both teams have played better and there were few stars to be singled out. Still as Jimmy Calderwood said after the match Dunfermline now have more points than they had at Christmas last year. Here`s to a Happy New Year!

DUNFERMLINE: 4-4-2: Ruitenbeek; MacPherson, Skerla, Skinner, Thomson; Mason,
Nicholson, Ferguson (Nicholls 89), Petrie (Dair 58); Bullen, Crawford.

Subs not used: Thomson (GK), McGroarty, Nish.

Yellow Cards: Bullen (88)

Strip:  Home Black and White

LIVINGSTON: 3-4-3: Culkin; Andrews, Rubio, Santini; Brinquin, Tosh, Quino
(Wilson 72), Cherrif (Bingham 22); Fernadez (Caputo 64), Lowndes, Aurellio. 

Subs: McEwan, Zausa.

Yellow Cards: Aurellio (73), Caputo (77).

Strip: Home Yellow and Black

Referee: Bobby Orr

Attendance: 5326

Weather: Dry, cold and bright 2C

Next Match: SPL (away) v Kilmarnock 26th December 2001

Sammy says thanks very much for visiting our web site where we have lots of news for young Pars fans.