SFL First Division: INVERNESS CT 1 DUNFERMLINE 2: 22/04/00
Pars Plunder the Points
In the true tradition of southern raiders Dunfermline retreated from Inverness Caley with all three points and the satisfaction that the SPL will be battleground for the next campaign. The Fifers won the game with a totally unimpressive performance with Caley Thistle outplaying them for most of the second half.
The Pars fans left Caledonian Stadium with the thirst of triumph, having witnessed their favourites 2-1 win. There was disappointment in the air however as the stadium announcer first informed the crowd of Ayr 1 St Mirren 1, Falkirk’s win and Livingston’s victory at Kirkcaldy followed by news of the Saints late late goal when scarcely had the fans made the car park.
Almost a deja vu from the Shyberry earlier in the season. From the distinct possibility of catching the Buddies over the last two matches the situation changed to be stacked against us.
There is a tradition that celebrations in the Highlands last a week or more but the St Mirren result dampened the day and journey back down the A9 to Parsland was more contented than celebratory.
Jimmy Calderwood brought Chris McGroarty in for Jason Dair in an otherwise unchanged line up. Inverness smarting from their heavy 5-1 defeat from Airdrie were out to redeem themselves.
In bright sunshine Eddie May kicked off for the Pars towards the imposing Kessock Bridge. First danger came in the third minute from ex Par Mark McCulloch who played a 1-2 before smashing in a shot for Mampaey to save.
After ten minutes Ian Ferguson went down holding his ribs and when Pip’s magic sponge failed, Fergie was helped off. The penny dropped and eventually the bench called in David Moss to enter the fray.
Michel Doesburg won a free kick wide right and Stewart Petrie’s cross just eluded Lee Bullen to go out for a goal kick. On 20 minutes David Xausa had a snap shot from 20 yards out which resulted in a corner.
Xausa should have scored from the corner but the shot at goal came from Byers who despatched the ball into the car park. Next Barry Wilson intercepted a Justin Skinner pass and the winger’s break again found Xausa and Athletic had yet another lucky escape as Eddie May flapped on the 18 yard line.
With 25 minutes gone the Pars entered the match in style when a Chris McGroarty pushed a ball through to Stewart Petrie. It looked too far ahead of Petrie but he caught the ball and crossed with a lunge for David MOSS to meet with little resistance to head past Fridge. The keeper got a touch on it but not enough for Dunfermline to take the lead against the run of play.
Comforted with the lead Dunfermline then played their best spell of the match. McGroarty had a right footed shot which Fridge collected with ease. Then a neat touch from Stevie Crawford put through Lee Bullen with just the keeper to beat. Inverness were appealing for offside as the Pars fans yelled for BULLEN to shoot. He rounded the keeper and found the net as the defenders closed in.
A similar Crawford touch sent May through eight minutes later but when he tried to tee it up for Petrie. Stewarty completely muffed it up. Bullen had another chance just before half time as Moss lofted the ball into space but 2-0 it remained at the interval.
The second half produced a lack lustre display from the visitors. Caley at times laced together a string of passes without a Dunfermline touch. One of these examples notched at least 15.
Dunfermline’s best chances came in 58th and 59th minutes when firstly Skinner’s ball to Crawford was played to Bullen whose shot Fridge saved. Then a Petrie cross for Eddie May was almost turned in for an own goal.
A Sheerin shot turned out to be a good cross out right and Doesburg cleared as the ball was crossed back into the Pars box.
Status Quo led the Caley celebrations for their 62nd minute goal. XAUSA rose to head in from a corner as the Dunfermline defence remained flat footed.
A Wilson free kick was sent over the crossbar by McCulloch and then Sheerin’s attempt went straight at Mampaey. McCulloch was booked for diving in the box as Caley continued to press.
The Pars fans discomfort was mirrored by Calderwood as he bounced the ball furiously back into play in the 79th minute. There was an inability to hold on to possession and his midfield was being totally outplayed by Inverness. Dunfermline were playing everything left and there was a definite lack of width on the right.
With less than five minutes to go a Byers hoof found Wilson on the right and his shot was well saved by Mampaey at the base of his left hand post.
As news of Falkirk’s win at Capplielow sent the fans behind Fridge’s goal dancing, the players were relieved to hear the final whistle and the news of certain promotion. Jimmy Calderwood danced a jig and the party looked set.
Victory over Caley Thistle left Dunfermline 10 points ahead of Raith in 4th and Falkirk in 3rd. Raith can no longer claim any better than 4th. and so with Falkirk not meeting SPL stadium requirements, St Mirren and Dunfermline go up and Aberdeen are saved the tightrope of play offs.
St Mirren’s 93rd minute winner puts the Championship only 2 points away for them and their 5 point lead over Dunfermline looks impossible to overcome in the remaining two matches of the 99-00 SFL season.
DUNFERMLINE: Mampaey; Skinner, Potter, Thomson; Doesburg, May, Ferguson (Moss 13), Petrie, Chris McGroarty(Coyle 86); Crawford, Bullen.
Subs not used: Graham
Yellow Cards: McGroarty (70)
Scorers: Moss (25), Bullen (33)
INVERNESS CT: Fridge, Hind, Golabek, Mann, McCulloch, Sheerin, Wilson, Wyness (Bavidge 83), Xausa, Byers, Craig (Christie 78)
Sub not used: Munro
Referee J. McCluskey
League Position 2nd
Strip: Black and White home
Weather: Sunny but cold
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