SAT 8TH JAN 2005: H v DUNFERMLINE (SCOTTISH CUP - 3RD ROUND)
This is what the Scottish Cup should be about. Bottom division versus top. Local derby. Chance of an upset.
Although Dunfermline were struggling, not many Fife fans would have expected to have left Bayview at the final whistle disappointed that we didn't win the tie, never mind earning a replay. But a totally spirited, hard fought team effort produced just those feelings.
Bayview was sadly not filled to capacity, but those that were there were soon to witness an East Fife display to match our proud Cup traditions.
Dunfermline kicked off with the wind in their favour and showed early promise and worries for Fife fans. Barry Nicholson looked like he was going to prove to be their main threat, having an effort blocked and scrambled away and firing high over within the first seven minutes of play.
The Pars had a great chance with 9 minutes gone when debutant Lee Makel brilliantly flighted a free kick to the back post and Scott Thomson rose well but his header crashed off the bar with Scott Morrison beaten. As two Pars players chased the rebound the danger was cleared.
Dunfermline were dominating possession but were not looking threatening, whilst, when East Fife did have the ball, the pace of our front two and wingers were causing problems for Dunfermline, with much touted right back Greg Ross having a particular mare. Or as one wag declared, "you're really making that number 42 shirt your own".
Midway through the first half though and the best East Fife attack to date. Stevie Nicholas won the ball and cut it inside to Jonny Mitchell just too soon, as the front two's quick break bore them down on goal.
With ten minutes of the half remaining and the Fife defence rather easily holding their mis-firing SPL strikers, Dunfermline won a corner. Lee Makel's corner was met by Andy Tod, but his bouncing header was acrobatically turned over the bar by Morrison. One for the cameras - if they'd bothered showing much highlights that was.
Moments later came Dunfermline's move of the match, when Darren Young played a brilliant one-two with the Pars other debutant, Danish gloved beanpole Jesper Christiansen. A goal beckoned, but a brilliant last ditch tackle by Kevin Bain blocked the shot for a corner.
Forty minutes gone and the Fife were holding firm with ease and even won their first corner. To cries of dismay from the Fife faithful, the ball was played short and eventually fell to Gary Kelly who tried a delightful looping flick into the six yard box, which Derek Stillie just got to before the two advancing Fife players who had beaten the offside.
Half time came and it was still 0-0 and with the wind behind us in the second half, there was a genuine feeling on the terraces that we could actually cause a shock here and take the game to the Pars in the second half.
The second half kicked off and East Fife showed that they were going to go for it from the off.
Not even a minute in and a good East Fife move on the left saw Brian Fairbairn tease the Pars defence before cutting the ball inside to Stevie Nicholas, who found Gary Kelly and the midfielder drove just wide from 25 yards out.
Minutes later and the Bairn is in the thick of the action again, this time picking the ball up just inside the Pars half before running inside and unleashing a bobbling effort from 25 yards that Stillie had to turn round the post for a corner. A corner, which incidentaly, saw Dunfermline bring EVERY player back in to their penalty box. We certainly had them worried.
The Fife had another great chance on 55 minutes when the Bairn took the ball out wide and delivered a perfect cross to Greig McDonald in the middle but he headed wide from 8 yards out against his old team.
As the game hit the hour mark all square, Dunfermline won a corner and Makel sent the ball in to the box. Morrison tipped the ball out to Nicholson who cracked an effort off the bar, as Morrision tried to scramble back, the ball broke to Young and his effort was superbly blocked by the recovered Morrison and the follow up fired wide by Christiansen.
Maybe this was going to be our day.
Three minutes later and East Fife took a neat quick free kick which didn't quite work out and it allowed a quick Dunfermline breakaway but Michael Renwick produced a tremendous last ditch tackle to block a shot and save what looked like a certain goal.
With 68 minutes on the clock came East Fife's best move of the game and the save that kept Dunfermline in the Scottish Cup.
Renwick picked the ball up just inside the Fife half. Playing it forward to Nicholas, Stevie played a delightful flick out wide to Sean Paliczka. Sean ran at the Pars defence before cutting the ball back to a perfectly placed, unmarked Stevie Nicholas in the box. Stevie took a touch, did everything right and hit a perfect goalbound shot at Stillie but the Pars keepers produced a miraculous point blank save to somehow turn the ball over the bar and prevent the Fife taking a shock lead.
The Pars responded minutes later through Barry Nicholson but his effort flew just over.
But the Fife were still fighting piled on some pressure of their own, the best chance coming when Greig McDonald headed a Policecar cross just wide with 15 minutes remaining.
Both teams went for it in the last fifteen, without really making any clear cut chances and as the final whistle came it was a crescendo of cheers from the black and gold clad supporters and a chorus of boos from those in black and white.
Every Fife player deserves praise. They fought for the shirt. They made us proud and they earned that replay on January 18th at East End Park. No matter what happens there, if they show the same spirit, fight and commitment that they did today then they'll do us proud.
Jim Moffat has been criticised by us at AFTN and others this season, but he got his tactics spot on today and a big hats off to him for that. More of the same through the west Jim, please.
As Celtic await the winners, what bigger motivation do the players need?!
C'mon the Fife.
FINAL SCORE: East Fife 0 - 0 Dunfermline Pathetic
EAST FIFE: Morrison, Renwick, Brash, Lumsden, Bain, Kelly, Paliczka, G. McDonald, Nicholas, Mitchell, Fairbairn Subs (not used)- McCafferty, Tarditi, Byle, Steele and Mathie
The whole team deserve plaudits, as they each played a part in a great effort -
3 points - KEVIN BAIN (Excellent old head at the back. Outstanding organisation)
2 points - STEVIE NICHOLAS (Shoul dhave won the game, but worked tirelessly)
1 point - BRIAN FAIRBAIRN (Brought his A game to the party and his pace posed problems)
[For another report on the game and stats, check out the EAST FIFE MAD site]
[For more pics of the game check out Brian Lawson's THEFIFERS.CO.UK site]