SPL: MOTHERWELL 1 DUNFERMLINE 1: 27/02/99
A game of two Andy’s - one Goram who saved the day for ‘Well and Andy Smith who was way out of touch for the Pars. The Pars two new men were pitched straight into the battle. Jason Dair playing wide on the right and Jamie Dolan playing in the centre of midfield alongside Derek Ferguson. Scott Thomson moved forward into midfield and Gavin Johnson was back on the left flank of the defence.
Motherwell were without suspended John Spencer but had Andy Goram back between the sticks.
The weather was horrible with hailstones before the match and swirling downpours during it. The temperature was decidedly cold as Dunfermline kicked off into the goal in front of their own fans. The Pars looked well up for the match though as they started with determination and urgency. The goals were elusive however as Andy Goram pulled off two great first half saves. The first was from a third minute David Graham effort that the keeper saved way down to his left hand. Scott Thomson was fighting hard and he got a header on target mid way through the first half only to see Goram save brilliantly low to the left yet again.
The second half was scarcely begun when Motherwell got a messy goal. The defence failed to clear a ball that tossed about the Pars penalty box and when Coyle’s close range shot was blocked Lee McCulloch was on hand to guide the ball into the goal. This 46th minute goal knocked the stuffing out of the Pars. The team’s workrate fell and no one was able to raise the hopes.
Coyle missed when it looked easier to score. Motherwell brought Douglas Ramsay on and he brought the first real save from Butler. With five minutes remaining the other sub Ian Ross should have killed the contest but his well struck shot rebounded off Butler’s right hand post.
Dunfermline had brought on Gerry Britton for David Graham after 66 minutes and with 86 minutes on the display board a Greg Shields free kick was backheaded passed a helpless Andy Goram. Suddenly relegation felt further away and the Pars finished pushing for the winner. Results from Dens Park, Tynecastle and Celtic Park all went in our favour and so there was a net gain of one point on the fellow strugglers.
This was a point salvaged but deserved on their first half performance. The team fell apart in the second half and Dick Campbell has a job on his hands forming these individuals into a team. The defence looked wobbly - Gavin Johnson seems to need too much time on the ball and he failed to get crosses and shots in when he should have. Campbell continues to claim that he is going to attack his way out of the relegation zone; so when is he going to sort out the Shields role. Dunfermline need to get the ball down the right and get the crosses in. Millar has not the same pace and ability as Shields in this capacity. Shields and Tod have their moments in defence but can be exposed like the alternative partnerships were previously this season.
Dolan looked a real battler and may be the midfield answer that we need. He faded a bit in the second 45 and needs a few more matches. Jason Dair did not impress; he had one or two good displays of ball control but failed to get any penetration up the right. George Shaw and Stewart Petrie were missed as the Pars attack lacked width. The goal when it did come was one of the kind of moves that Dunfermline are famed for - a high ball into the box and a headed finish.
Then there is the bigger problem of Andy Smith. The guy was clearly having an off day. His lay offs but to midfield were often intercepted and directed into the path of the opposition. The visiting fans loudly booed the substitution of Gerry Britton for David Graham; not because they were unpleased at Britton’s return but because if one of the front men was to be substituted then there was a conclusive case for taking off big Andy. It seems like that captain’s arm band is sewn to the number nine shirt.
DUNFERMLINE: Butler; Millar, Shields, Tod, Johnson, Dair, Ferguson, Dolan, Thomson (Petrie 75); Graham (Britton 66), Smith
Subs not used; Westwater, Martin, Templeman.
Scorer: Britton (86)
Referee: W Young
League position 10th but one point nearer Hearts 4 ahead of us!
Next match v Kilmarnock (away) Saturday 6th March 1999
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