|Return to Season 2000/2001|
|Aberdeen 1 (1) Dunfermline Athletic 0|
|21st April 2001|
|Scottish Premier League|
|By Douglas Scott|
It would be nice to report that Dunfermline re-discovered their away form at Aberdeen and say that the 300 loyal fans who travelled north to support their team into the final folds of this SPL season had witnessed a memorable game full of incident, drama and goals.
Alas that report will have to wait, maybe after Tannadice on 6th May? Jimmy Calderwood was apologetic for singing the same old song as the needle, that was lacking on the park, stuck on the groove that the Pars away form just cannot get out of.
With only three wins now in nineteen away matches Dunfermline's season has been spoiled by their inability to reproduce the East End magic on other soil.
For the visit to Aberdeen Crawford, Ferguson, Petrie, McGroarty and Bullen came into the side replacing Rossi, Thomson, Skinner, Danilevicius and Dair. Steve Hampshire and Stevie Crawford took the kick off with the Pars defending the Dick Donald Stand end.
The system looked suspiciously like the 2-4-4 that we saw at Tynecastle but with Skerla and Doesburg in the centre of the defence Gary Mason and Chris McGroarty looked like they were expected to track up and down the flanks as required.
First fright was soon to arrive in the 4th minute when Stavrum used the space on the right to home in on goal and Marco Ruitenbeek made a good save as he dropped to ground to stop the on-target shot. Stavrum had scored a hat trick against St Mirren in his last home appearance and the 28 year old Norwegian looked sharp from the start.
Dunfermline's best chance of the half then fell to Lee Bullen. We were in the seventh minute when Crawford and Nicholson combined to send a good ball out right for Lee Bullen. The tackle on him from McAllister saw the ball re-bound off Lee and he collected took the ball; into the box and fired at a 45 degree angle towards the net. Unfortunately the keeper deflected the effort behind for a corner.
Stewart Petrie presence meant that he took the corners from the right but despite Dunfermline forcing seven in the first 45 there was never a Dunfermline head first to the ball. Aberdeen won a corner when a Kevin McNaughton cross was headed perilously close to the goals but over by Michel Doesburg.
Rowson tested Marco with a shot in the 14th minute before a piece of Aberdeen innovation at free kick on the right failed and McGroarty was given the opportunity to motor down the left wing. An early ball to the screaming Barry Nicholson looked promising but the Pars no.21 did not get enough behind his shot and Esson rescued the Dons.
Cato Guinveit has only scored one goal since joining Aberdeen from Brann Bergen in November 1999 and he almost doubled his tally when he met a Chris Clark corner and Marco was forced to palm away the net bound ball.
The Pars were under a bit of pressure and when Clark sent in a low cross from the left in the 31st minute Arild STAVRUM arrived before everyone to nip the ball in at the near post.
Things could have and should have got worse when Stavrum peeled off the wall at an Aberdeen free kick. He collected the ball wide right and crossed for Darren Young but he fired a great chance over the crossbar.
The only other chance of the half came when another Stavrum cross from the right was taken by Winters instead of letting the ball drop to Clark. Winters met it too early and failed to get a shot on target.
Justin Skinner came on at half time to replace Michel Doesburg. Petrie dropped back to a more left back role as Jimmy Calderwood's most 'tartan' squad of the season tried to get back into the game.
Alas the second half was one that is worthy of few words. Chris McGroarty did send in a cross from the left after 58 minutes but the ball was cut out long before it reached its target in Bullen.
Colin Nish was soon thrown into the fray making his 4th appearance of the season as sub; but not even the eager to impress youngster could do anything to break down the Aberdeen defence.
Dunfermline pushed up playing most of the second half in the Aberdeen end. The home side had the inevitable breakaways that kept Marco alert but the Dunfermline goalmouth was rarely the centre of the action. Had this been a Test Match the commentators would have majored on the dozen pigeons who managed to forage around Marco's six yard box for lengthy periods of the half.
Nineteen year old Darren Mackie had been a 64th minute substitute for Robbie Winters and it was he who latched on to the chances that came the home team's way. In 72 minutes he was sent straight through the middle as the limited Pars defence was breached; Ruitenbeek blocked the youngsters shot from 18 yards and then five minutes later Marco palmed an effort from the same source and the ball rebounded off the left hand post.
One more shot from Mackie after Stavrum had made the opening brought another fine save from Marco Ruitenbeek. Dunfermline did push harder towards the end with Esson saving brilliantly from a Barry Nicholson 25 yard free kick. The Scotland U21 keeper got down really low to his left to keep out Nic's on target 88th minute strike.
Chris McGroarty had the last try at salvaging a point when one minute into stoppage time he took a ball from Crawford who was deep out left and hammered a great left footed shot that just swung to the outside of the right goalpost.
Not a sterling performance from Dunfermline; Gary Mason tried hard; Bullen and Nicholson battled away, Andrius Skerla did well with limited assistance and Big Marco kept the score line respectable.
Aberdeen's lowest Saturday crowd of the season reflected a view that not a lot was at stake in this game. Unfortunately for the 8613 who did turn up, the absentees missed little.
2-4-4; Ruitenbeek, Doesburg, (Skinner HT), Skerla, Mason,
Nicholson, Ferguson, McGroarty, Bullen (Nish 65), Hampshire, Crawford, Petrie (Dair
Subs not used: SY Thomson, Potter
Yellow Cards: Ferguson (26 kicked ball away), Skerla (28 foul), Petrie (55 foul).
Strip: Home Black and White
League Position: 7th
Weather: Overcast, cool and breezy
POST MATCH MANAGERS' COMMENTS
from Jimmy Calderwood and Ebbe Skovdahl.
By Douglas Scott
It was another disappointed Dunfermline boss Jimmy Calderwood who spoke to the media immediately after the defeat at Aberdeen:-
"Well it is the same old story; I don't want to sound like an LP but is the same story from us away from home. Poor defending - we gave Aberdeen four or five chances in the first twenty five minutes and luckily for us they never made them.
"We didn't create a lot ourselves. Big Lee was through and the keeper made a good save but he should have knocked it across the keeper. Poor performance first half and the goal was very similar to the goal Kilmarnock scored against us the other week. He has got inside wee Chrissie and scored from about six yards.
"Second half I think our football improved with possession I think we dominated without creating any clear cut chances. Probably the best chances fell to Aberdeen with the pace of the counterattack. We made the wrong choices with our passing and they had a couple of lads with pace to counterattack and we got away with it.
"For all the domination and possession of the ball we didn't create that much."
Asked about the affect of top six failure:
"I think it might have had an affect; we have tried to talk about it all week and we knew that we were in for a hard game again today. Every time we are away from Dunfermline it is a hard game for us.
"We must get that out of our system as soon as possible because we want to try and finish seventh. If we want to improve we have to keep our home form the way it is but we are putting so much pressure on our home form because we are doing nothing away from home.
"I know how hard it is to come to Pittodrie but if we want to be higher next season than we are this season then we have got to start getting points and winning away from home. We should have the quality to do it because we are not scared of anybody at Dunfermline and we have exactly the same players."
Asked for a view on the SPL split and the motivation in the bottom six:
"It's no problem for me - you would need to ask the lads that one. I would hate to think that motivation is a problem; they are disappointed from two weeks ago, but that is two weeks ago - we are living for today and there is money to be earned but hopefully the money is not a motivation there is pride for the players.
"I am sick of sitting and turning this LP on every away game. It has got to change. I can't remember the last time we held a team to nil. It is not the keeper's fault but the defence of the team. Marco has had twelve shut outs yet we have had 40 odd goals against us. We shouldn't be losing two goals a game with the quality players that we have got."
Aberdeen manager Ebbe Skovdahl:-
"I feel that especially the first half was good with a lot of good football; the second half was a little more scrappy and it gets a little awkward when we can't finish the chances that we created.
"Darren Mackie had three when it was obvious to have a quick player in. The way the second half formed itself with Dunfermline putting pressure on us we still need more composure in the last phase before we finish our attack
"I was satisfied and delighted with the all round performance."
Of the suggestion that the game was a bit flat Ebbe was quick to scorch that idea:
"No. I don't feel that the game was flat for us," said Skovdahl.
"If Dunfermline had equalised at the end it would have been our own fault because we had opportunities enough to kill that game; that is exactly what we have to improve on.
"It was a magnificent goal that we scored and don't think it is because the players don't want to score goals that they miss the chances but we definitely need to improve that. We need to give ourselves more time when we are up - give ourselves more time and opportunities to improve your game in the middle of the park.
"This is the fourth time that we have played Dunfermline this season; there were two draws where Dunfermline were better than we were but I feel that when we lost 3-2 at Dunfermline earlier in the season we played well then, so today especially our first half was very very good. We definitely deserved to win the game.
"I agree that we could have been a lot more convincing; you know players today do not think about the ulcers in the manager's stomach!"