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Monthly Digest - March 2003

Date: 1st March 2003 Opposition: Dundee United Score (H/T): 0-3 (0-1)
Competition: Sc Premier League Venue Tannadice Attendance: 6,004
Scorer: [0-1] Easton (39), [0-2] Tod (47), [0-3] Ogunmade (89)
Yellow Cards: Wilson (DAFC)
Pars Team: Stillie; MacPherson (Kilgannon 56), Skerla, Brannan, Wilson; Dair (Hunt HT), Nicholson, Mason, Grondin; Crawford, Brewster. Subs not used: Ruitenbeek, Walker, McGarty.
Dundee United: Gallacher; McCracken, Tod, Bollan; McCunnie, Duff, Easton, Latapy (Dodds 58), Paterson; McIntyre (Smart 85), Lilley (Ogunmade 77). Subs not used: Combe (GK), O'Donnell.
Referee: T Brown
A very poor showing by Dunfermline at Tannadice, which saw United record only their second home win of the season. Having had the majority of pressure, it was no real surprise that the Arabs took the lead six minutes before the break when Easton headed home from six yards. Calderwood replaced Dair at half time with Hunt, but before the young Irishman could make an impression Dundee United went two up. Pars old boy Andy Tod slid the ball home at the far post. Just before the final whistle substitute Ogunmade compounded the Athletics' misery by slamming the ball past Stillie from the edge of the six yards box. 
Pos   Pld W D L F A Pts
4 Kilmarnock 29 13 6 10 34 39 45
5 Dunfermline Ath 29 12 3 14 44 54 39
6 Dundee 28 9 8 11 36 41 35
Post match manager Calderwood once again laments his team's poor away form saying, "we are not good enough just to turn up; we have got to earn the right to win these games. We didn't win that right today, Dundee United did."
After seeing his team humbled by Dundee United, JC says he would have no hesitation in getting rid of players who weren't up to scratch. He said it would be difficult as some of them have 18 month and two years left on their contracts. A clear the air meeting is held with the players on the Sunday.
Stevie Crawford is ranked as 17th in the UEFA Golden Boot listings.
Scott Thomson is to see a specialist to try and resolve his ankle problem. Another player whose return is on hold is Lee Bullen, having suffered an adverse reaction following a training comeback. 
The Under 21 team beat Dundee 3-0 at Dens Park, with goals from Jason Dair, Gary Dempsey and Sean Kilgannon.
One time signing target, Taribo West, claims that Dunfermline never really understood his religious beliefs.
For the Hibs Scottish Cup replay, the one change made to the team that lost at Tannadice is the surprise inclusion of Mark McGarty, at the expense of Jason Dair.
Date: 6th March 2003 Opposition: Hibernian Score (H/T): 2-0 (0-0)
Competition: Scottish Cup Venue Easter Road Attendance: 5,581
Scorer: [1-0] Crawford (57), [2-0] Wilson (79) 
Yellow Cards: Brewster (DAFC), McManus (Hibs)
Pars Team: Stillie; Skerla, MacPherson, Wilson; Nicholson, McGarty, Brannan, Mason (Dempsey 92), Grondin (Walker 89); Crawford, Brewster (Hunt 63). Subs not used: Ruitenbeek, Kilgannon.
Hibernian: Colgan; Doumbe, Smith, Fenwick (Arpinon 78); James, Jack, Townsley (O'Neil 65), Murray; O'Connor (Paatelainen 85), McManus. Subs not used: Andersson, Orman,
Referee: H Dallas
For the third time this season Dunfermline recorded a victory at Easter Road, a ground which had been anything but a happy hunting ground for many years. The first half saw a poor display from both team with Hibs having the best of the few chances made.  Mark McGarty, making his first start since December 2000, was almost punished for hesitating when chasing a long ball into the box, but Murray shot wide. Twelve minutes into the second half and a Grondin cross from the left was chested down by Stevie Crawford, who then despatched the ball past Colgan for the opener. Despite being a goal down, Hibs did not offer much of a challenge and in 79 minutes, their defence failed to clear a Barry Nicholson corner. With Noel Hunt charging in on Colgan the ball broke lose and there was Scott Wilson to smash the ball past Colgan for the Pars second goal. The victory over Hibs sets DA up for a quarter final tie against Rangers at East End Park.    
Despite the victory against Hibs, JC acknowledges that his team had to battle for their win and were fortunate to get breaks on the night.
Scott Wilson's goal, his first for the Pars, was only the second of his career.
Reports suggest that Diego Maradona's 16 year old son, who plays for Italian club Napoli, could be spending a year on loan at East End Park. Kilmarnock are also reported to be interested. JC is wary of getting caught up in another Taribo West style media circus.
After being stretchered off against Hibs, Gary Mason misses the Thistle game with an ankle injury.
Date: 9th March 2003  Opposition: Partick Thistle Score (H/T): 0-0 (0-0)
Competition: Sc Premier League Venue East End Park Attendance: 4,476
Scorer: N/A
Yellow Cards: Brewster (DAFC), Lilley, Hardie (Partick)
Pars Team: Stillie; Skerla, MacPherson, Wilson; Nicholson, McGarty (Dair HT), Brannan, Grondin (Kilgannon 77); Crawford; Hunt (Dempsey HT), Brewster. Subs not used: Ruitenbeek, Walker
Partick Thistle: Arthur; Lilley, Rowson, Craigan, Archibald, Buchan, Paterson, Hardie, Fleming; Britton (Elliot 78), Burns (Gibson 89). Subs not used: Budinauckas, Waddell, McGowne.
Referee: C Richmond
This was as poor an advertisement for Scottish football as you could wish to find, with two off form teams that never looked like troubling the back of the net. During the first half, although Dunfermline probably had more of the game, it was Thistle who had the better of the chances. The interval proved to be a relief from the match, but unfortunately the second half turned out to be no better than the first. The Pars best efforts came from Grondin and Brewster, but right at the death Thistle almost stole the game when Gibson brought out a good save from Stillie. File under forgettable!
Pos   Pld W D L F A Pts
4 Kilmarnock 30 13 7 10 36 41 46
5 DunfermlineAth 30 12 4 14 44 54 40
6 Dundee 30 9 10 11 38 43 37
Post match Calderwood felt that his team had been very flat and had found the heavily rutted pitch difficult to pass on. 
Ged Brannan has said he would take a pay cut to remain at East End Park at the end of his loan spell.
Manager Calderwood says that the Kilmarnock match is a must win game. His words are echoed by Jimmy Nicholl who warns the players to forget Europe and start looking over their shoulders.
Former players Ian Ferguson and Stewart Petrie help their new team Northern Spirit into the finals of the Australian season. Fergie scores the winner in a 2-1 victory over local rivals Marconi Stallions. 
Another poor performance sees an experienced Under 21 side go down 3-0 to Dundee United. In a bid to protect the East End pitch, the match was played at Bayview, Methil.
JC announces that the Pars will return to Holland pre-season for the fourth year in a row. Once again the team will be based in Delden and will play four games, against an amateur side, Nijmegan, FC Twente and either De Graafshaap or Go Ahead Eagles. Prior to departing for Holland, DA will visit the Isle of Lewis and play two games in Stornaway. 
Dunfermline are reported to be interested in signing Jim Hamilton, who has been released by Dundee United. There are a number of contractual difficulties to sort out before any move takes place.
Noel Hunt and Gary Dempsey are called up to the Irish Under 21 team for the games in Georgia and Albania.
John Yorkston revealed that a number of players are likely to be released before the end of the season. These are likely to be players on the fringe of the first team, especially those too old to get a game for the under 21s.
Another injury blow hits JC's plans for Kilmarnock, as Andrius Skerla becomes the latest player to be affected with by a hamstring. On the plus side, Lee Bullen is back in the side after making a surprise return to training. Gary Mason, Scott Thomson, Steven Hampshire and Andre Karnebeek continue on the sidelines. 
Date: 16th March 2003  Opposition: Kilmarnock Score (H/T): 1-1 (0-0)
Competition: Sc Premier League Venue Rugby Park Attendance: 4,021
Scorer: [1-0] Shields (59 og), [1-1] Boyd (81)
Yellow Cards: Bullen, Hunt (DAFC)
Pars Team: Stillie; Walker, MacPherson, Wilson; Bullen (Dempsey 60), Nicholson, Brannan, Grondin (McGroarty 57), Kilgannon; Crawford, Brewster (Hunt 73). Subs not used: Ruitenbeek, Dair.
Kilmarnock: Meldrum; Shields, Innes, Dindeleux (Boyd 65); Fowler, Mahood, Fulton, Canero, Hay (Murray 76); McLaren, McSwegan. Subs not used: Stewart, Locke, McDonald
Referee: D McDonald
For the first hour or so the Athletic played as well as they have done for some time, having by far the better chances. Nicholson, Kilgannon and Grondin all had good chances, whilst McLaren smashed the ball into the side netting when he was through on goals. At the start of the second half, Meldrum did well to palm away a Brewster header, but then after almost an hour of play, the Pars took the lead in bizarre fashion. A shot by Kilgannon was touched away by Meldrum with the ball falling to former Par, Greg Shields. With plenty of time to clear, the ball seemed to bobble at the critical moment, and ended up in the roof of the net. A goal up with half an hour remaining, the Pars began to fall further back into defence. Then with just ten minutes left, Stevie Crawford, tried to play the ball off an opponent but only succeeded in conceding a corner from the half way line, and for the umpteenth time this season, the set piece turned out to be the Pars downfall. The corner, the first of the match won by Killie, was played to the edge of the six yard box, where Kris Boyd eluded his marker to head past a helpless Stilie. In the final minute, Kilmarnock had a chance to take all three points, but Stillie denied McSwegan with a good save.      
Pos   Pld W D L F A Pts
4 Kilmarnock 31 13 8 10 37 42 47
5 DunfermlineAth 31 12 5 14 45 55 41
6 Dundee 31 9 11 11 41 46 38
After the game, JC felt that his team had played well for 70 minutes, should have scored more goals, but then stopped passing the ball about.
The roll call of the injured lengthened considerably after the Killie game. Worst affected was midfielder Gary Dempsey who suffered a double jaw fracture, after being flattened on a couple of occasions by Innes. Lee Bullen was substituted following a flare up of his hamstring injury, and defender Scott Walker injured his neck. A scan during the week reveals that Andrius Skerla 
JC slams the BBC for scheduling the Kilmarnock game for 1.05pm on the same day as the CIS Cup Final between Rangers and Celtic. A crowd of just over 4,000 attended.
Stevie Crawford receives another call-up to the Scotland game for the games against Iceland and Lithuania. Gary Dempsey's injury means that the youngster has to withdraw from the Irish Under 21 squad. Also removed from the Lithuania squad is Andrius Skerla. 
The SPL chairmen vote to scrap the winter break as from next season.
At the end of a week of injury worries for manager JC, those missing out on the Rangers game are Andre Karnebeek, Scott Thomson, Andrius Skerla, Lee Bullen, and Gary Dempsey. Barry Nicholson and Derek Stillie are doubts, although both will make the game.
Rangers route to the quarter-final had been considerably easier than DA's, with away wins over Arbroath (3-0) and Ayr United (1-0).
Date: 23rd March 2003 Opposition: Rangers Score (H/T): 1-1 (1-1)
Competition: Scottish Cup Venue East End Park Attendance: 9,875
Scorer: [1-0] Grondin (23), [1-1] Caniggia (31)
Yellow Cards: Hunt (DAFC), Ricksen, Muscat, Malcolm, Moore (Rangers)
Red Card Ferguson (Rangers)
Pars Team: Stillie, McPherson, Nicholson (Hunt 52), Mason, Crawford, Brewster, Brannan, McGroarty, Wilson, Grondin (Kilgannon 74), McGarty Subs not used: Ruitenbeek, Dair, Walker
Rangers: Klos, Ricksen, Moore, Ferguson, Caniggia, McCann (Averladze 74), Malcolm, De Boer, Muscat, Konterman, Ateta. Subs not used: McGregor, Thomson, Ross, Eggen
Referee: J Underhill
After the disappointments of recent weeks, this was a tremendous performance from the Pars who, with a little bit of luck, could have pulled off a shock result. In a pulsating game, Dunfermline took the lead when the ball was played upfield to Brewster. Ignoring claims for offside, the veteran played a perfect pass to David Grondin for the Frenchman to smash the ball past Klos. Unfortunately the lead lasted just eight minutes when de Boer slipped the ball to Caniggia who toe poked it past the advancing Stillie. When Barry Nicholson was forced to go off injured early in the second half, he was replaced by Noel Hunt and the youngster wasted no time in ruffling the Ibrox millionaires feathers. Almost immediately he was involved in a scuffle that saw both the Irishman and Muscat booked, and Barry Ferguson lucky to avoid any action after he clearly raised his hands to the Pars player. Dunfermline were fortunate not to concede a goal when both Caniggia and Averladze missed easy chances when scoring seemed the easier option. Right before the end DA survived a penalty claim after  Brannan appeared to down Arteta in the box. With just seconds remaining the game Barry Ferguson received his marching orders after a shocking tackle on Hunt earned him a red card. After some of the disappointing televised games that the Pars had been involved in recently, this was a tremendous advert for Scottish football, with DA fully deserving the right to a replay at Ibrox. 
Post match manager Calderwood said that he was very proud of his players, claming they were getting closer to Rangers with each game. Meanwhile Rangers manager Alex McLeish appears to have been watching a completely different game, claiming that his highly paid players were 'kicked up and down the park'. A strange comment as four of his players were yellow carded and one red carded, compared to the two Dunfermline players cautioned.
Should DA get past Rangers in the replay, then Motherwell who beat Stranraer 4-0 in the quarters, await in the semi-final.
Mark McGarty has been warned by JC to improve his behavior if he wants to remain at Dunfermline.
The Under 21 team loses again this time 4-1 away to Motherwell. Steven Hampshire scores the Athletics' sole goal. The defeat leaves the young Pars rooted to the foot of the Under 21 league.  
After an orchestrated campaign by Rangers 'supporters', Noel Hunt learns that an alleged spitting incident involving Bert Konterman will not be reviewed by the SFA Video Review Panel. Meanwhile the youngster scores the Irish Under 21's equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Georgia away.  
Former Dundee United striker Jim Hamilton signs for the Pars until the end of the season as an amateur. The change in Hamilton's status was necessary to get round complicated transfer regulations.
Jimmy Calderwood is keen to make loan midfielder Ged Brannan's move to East End Park permanent. Success will depend on reaching agreement with Brannan's current club Wigan. 
Stevie Crawford plays the full 90 minutes for Scotland in their 2-1 win over Iceland at Hampden.
Striker Colin Nish is told that his contract won't be renewed when it expires at the end of the season. The 22 year old will spend the next week at English Third Division York City on trial.