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Dunfermline Athletic 0 (0) Aberdeen  0(0)
 29th July 2000
Scottish Premier League
By Douglas Scott

There will not be any better opportunities to register a win in the Premier League season ahead. The fixture schedule brought the weakest team of last SPL season for the opening match at East End Park. Aberdeen had Derek Whyte out suspended and 5 team members unavailable through injury (Anderson, Bernard, Mayer, Guntveit, Lilley). Add to that Aberdeen’s loss of central defender Thomas Solberg injured after only six minutes and Derek Young red carded in 42 minutes the task will never be stacked better in the Pars favour. Alas it was a game of missed chances, with the Dons having their share of near things.

Manager Jimmy Calderwood said after the match "I know we can play better, we created a lot of chances and we tried everything to win the game".

The Rolling Stones were the new choice for the teams coming out of the tunnel – Paint it Black. New signing Junior Mendes was in the starting line up, Ian Ferguson returned after injury and Marco Ruitenbeek resumed in goals. It was a new look Pars team with only 5 players who featured in the last SFL match at home surviving to see the SPL return for Dunfermline.

Chances came the Pars way from the start with Stevie Crawford getting in an early shot and a Jason Dair cross from the left dummied by Eddie May for Crawford to shoot. The ex Hibs man was not sharp enough and Ian Ferguson ended up shooting wide.

There were only 6 minutes gone when a Mendes cross from the right carried to Stewart Petrie on the far side of the six yard box. The Pars no.11 somewhat taken by surprise had two goes at putting it away before Justin Skinner also
missed. Aberdeen lost Solberg at this stage. Possibly a recurrence of the injury which had made his selection doubtful.

Junior Mendes was certainly underlining his presence causing the Dons defence considerable problems. He was being chopped down and having his jersey tugged. In the 12th minute when he beat the offside trap to set up Crawford, again the chance was not taken.

Aberdeen were trying too, with Rowson breaking through and Stavrum turning the ball across the goalmouth. When Crawford then turned provider his cross was just behind Mendes and Eddie May’s blast went wide and high.

Michel Doesburg was called to desperately concede a corner after Derek Young burst down the right and almost set up Stavrum. A clearance from Scott Thomson found Crawford who again had his chance to open the account. Mendes next made a good chance for Eddie May but his shot again whizzed by Esson’s right hand post.

Aberdeen came close on the half hour when firstly Perry headed over the Pars bar and Stavrum bursting through a disarrayed defence. Only Andrei Skerla’s timely tackle kept the score goalless.

Advantage did come Dunfermline’s way in a torrid two minutes just before half time. Derek Young was yellow carded in the 39th minute and when Jason Dair accidentally stood on him the Don reacted violently earning himself a straight red to match the yellow he had just received. Down to 10 men I don’t know if the Aberdeen supporters decided that more tackle was needed on the pitch but a a young male streaker then danced around the pitch to the right of their defence. Fife Constabulary marched the streaker out all the way along the front of the East Stand with no helmet or hat being offered to cover the "offence".

Right on half time Dunfermline won their first corner of the match. Stewart Petrie’s cross was advanced by Doesburg to Mendes whose goal bound shot was blocked by the young 20-year-old Dons keeper.

For the second half Eddie May was replaced by Owen Coyle. Justin Skinner who had played the first 45 in midfield went back into defence. Scott Thomson moved into midfield and Owen Coyle joined Crawford and Mendes up front. The tactics should have had immediate return as Dair sent Thomson deep into the Aberdeen box. But when Thomson passed for Crawford to execute the striker tripped over himself and still no goals.

Ian Ferguson was yellow carded for bringing down Robbie Winters as he set off into the Pars half and the skipper was forward again to send Thomson into the Dons penalty box again. The knock down to Crawford only won a corner.

When a 51st minute pass from Skerla found Coyle on the edge of the penalty box Mark Perry flattened Coylie for a free kick. The set piece had obviously been rehearsed as Ferguson back heeled the tap to Scott Thomson. Unfortunately the well struck shot was always rising and cleared the crossbar.

Skerla again set up a move with Doesburg and Crawford combining to give Owen Coyle a great chance which he completely mistimed and the ball ended up back with Crawford. Aberdeen were now under much more pressure. Doesburg headed over a corner and then he had a cross for Crawford which forced another save from the keeper.

Hicham Zeroualli came on for Stavrum in 58 minutes and caused mayhem with his trickery. Within three minutes of coming on he had a shot that was wide of Ruitenbeek’s right hand post. Mendes rounded McAllister into the box and got behind the visiting defence to cross but an Aberdeen foot got to the ball first. Ferguson and Thomson had mishits attempts at goal before play switched to the other end.

Dow found Winters whose left foot shot went just over and then Zeroualli had a shot from only 10 yards into the Pars half  wide on the right. With the crowd willing Dunfermline on Coyle missed a Petrie cross and Coyle blasted over a Dair free kick that arrived for him via Crawford and Mendes.

With ten minutes remaining Robbie Winters clipped over the bar when it might have been easier to score. Time was running out fast and Owen Coyle had a snap shot that just was just touched over. Crawford ran on alone on to a Dair clearance and as he homed in on Esson, McGuire did enough to spoil the chance. Two minutes into the three minutes added at the end, Coyle had a run down the left resulting in a shot for Doesburg that Esson tipped on. Mendes could not get near enough to net and the ball went behind for a bye kick.

No goals conceded but none scored. Good performances from Thomson and Mendes but finding the net is going to be necessary!

DUNFERMLINE: Ruitenbeek; Doesburg, Thomson, Skerla, Dair; May (Coyle HT), Ferguson (Matthaei 71), Skinner, Petrie; Mendes, Crawford.
Yellow Card: Ferguson (47)
Strip: Home Black & White

Referee: Stuart Dougall
Weather: warm and sunny

Attendance: 7563
Next match: v Dundee (away) Saturday 5th August