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Dunfermline Athletic 0 (0) Arsenal 3 (0)
7th August 2000
Friendly Challenge Match 
By Douglas Scott

This stadium opener with the star studded opposition appropriately called the Gunners was as much to do with what happened on the pitch as what was being commemorated around it. With Arsenal's starting line up valued at cost as 40m Dunfermline's stadium development investment might have looked insignificant. But a crowd of 10,330 joined the world stars to grace the occasion.

BBC's Bill McFarlane introduced Director Gavin Masterton and Chairman John Yorkston both of whom had a few words to say before releasing the red, black and white balloons and officially opening the new East End Park.

Dunfermline made one change from the side that suffered at Dens Park last Saturday. Michel Doesburg was carrying a slight injury and so was not risked. This meant Eddie May started at right back and Jason Dair continued
at left back.

Arsenal straight from matches against Barcelona and Ajax had Viera, Lauren, Henry and Kanu but Dennis Bergkamp predictably did not show up. The Pars kicked off towards the East Stand but straight from that they were pegged back in their own half. Arsenal demonstrated pace and threat immediately. After only 3 minutes Stewart Petrie lost possession on the half way line Henry collected and took route one on goal but his shot slipped past Ruitenbeek's right hand post. There was further danger signals when Lauren's cross from the right wing was just missed by a sliding Kanu.

Seven minutes on the clock however Lauren crossed again and this time Thierry Henry was there to head Arsenal into an early lead. Two minutes later with Skinner absent from the centre of the defence Henry dummied a
ball through to Freddie Ljungberg who made no mistake in doubling the lead. Some reporter in the back of the Press Box inquired what was Lauren's first name!

Arsenal were in complete command and Dunfermline found it difficult to get into the game. They were handed possession when the match's first free kick was awarded to them after 17 minutes. The word exhibition came to mind as Arsenal looped the ball from left to right in a move involving Henry, Kanu and Dixon. Then a 25 yard shot from Kanu was tipped over the crossbar by Ruitenbeek. The keeper had a good save next from Viera recovering to collect the rebound.

An unpopular foul conceded by Skerla just outside the left of the Pars penalty box was cut back to Ljungberg whose shot was deflected wide by Lauren. Robert Pires showed a fantastic burst of speed to round Eddie May and get to the bye line to successfully cross. Fortunately Marco Ruitenbeek was on hand to deflect any danger. Viera impressed with a quality ball to Henry who outpaced Scott Thomson as he homed into the penalty box and squared to Kanu who made no mistake. With five minutes to half time Henry had two further chances, the first went wide and the second was saved by Ruitenbeek with his feet!

In the final minute of the half Stewart Petrie's persistence created the opportunity for Lee Dixon to make a mistake and Stevie Crawford was allowed a shot at goal from 12 yards but alas the ball went straight to Seaman. The Norrie McCathie Stand gave the Arsenal team an appreciative ovation as they retired into the players' tunnel for the interval.

The second half played in pouring rain, was peppered with substitutions from the start. Dunfermline did get forward more often but still it was Arsenal who looked more likely to score. Kanu had a 47th minute shot from another Lauren cross and five minutes later when Jason Dair took down Kanu, Thierry Henry hit the crossbar with his 25 yard free kick. Two more minutes passed before substitute goalkeeper, Scott Thomson, made a double save from Freddie Ljungberg.

Steve Crawford and Scott Thomson exchanged passes to demonstrate that we could play a bit. David Moss making his season debut had a headed attempt after 70 minutes and he and Owen Coyle got stuck in in a spell which
momentarily roused the home support. Coyle and Graham combined to put Scott Thomson deep into the Arsenal box but his final touch was nothing like good enough to beat Manninger.

Dunfermline last chance fell to David Graham as he almost decieved Tony Adams but the keeper was ready for him. No penalties needed to decide the winner of the Auto Windscreens Challenge Trophy. Sponsors Man of the Match
for Dunfermline - Ian Ferguson; for Arsenal Patrick Viera. For me Kanu's touches and trickery were the most memorable thing to take from this classy Arsenal performance.

DUNFERMLINE: Ruitenbeek (Thomson HT), May (Reid 58), Skerla (Tod 72), Skinner (Matthaei 65), Dair; Nicholson, Ferguson (Moss 65), Thomson, Petrie; Mendes (Coyle 58), Crawford (Graham 72)
Strip: Home Black & White

ARSENAL: Seaman (Manninger HT), Dixon (Demel 68), Luzhny, Adams, Silvinho (Cole 68); Lauren, Ljungberg, Viera (Malz 68), Pires (Parlour HT); Henry (Wreh 68), Kanu.
Scorers: Henry (7), Ljungberg (9), Kanu (32)

Attendance: 10,330
Referee: John Rowbottom (Kirkcaldy)

Weather:  Mild but wet
Next Match: v St Johnstone (home) Saturday 12th August