Celtic 1 Dunfermline 2Sunday, 2nd May 2004
BOS SPL Premier League: Barry Nicholson (28) 0-1: Henrik Larsson (47) 1-1: Gary Dempsey (58) 1-2:
Less than three weeks before Dunfermline would meet Celtic in the Scottish Cup final they travelled to Glasgow to meet the newly crowned champions on league business. Those dedicated fans who made the trip were rewarded with Dunfermline`s first victory at Celtic Park since August 1997 and of course Jimmy Calderwood’s first victory over Martin O’Neill’s team. The win guaranteed the Pars at the worst a fourth place finish.
Not surprisingly Craig Brewster and Stevie Crawford were sidelined really as a precaution against aggravating small injuries that would certainly not keep them out of the 22nd May meeting.
Billy Mehmet came in to the team that had defeated Motherwell in the previous match and Dunfermline kicked off and Greg Shields playing in the centre of a back three was in early defensive action beating off the run of Jamie Smith into the right side of the Pars box.
Pars keeper Derek Stillie pulled off a great save in sixth minute diving to his left to tip an Alan Thompson header from 10 yards out for a corner. Young Aidan McGeady had supplied the return for Thompson and the promising Celtic number 46 was popping out everywhere.
Celtic’s continued possession caused more danger for Dunfermline. Paul Lambert’s pass to Larsson on the edge of the box was fed back for Chris Sutton who dispatched a shot high over the bar. The Dunfermline defence soaked up the pressure with Gary Mason doing a good man marking role on McGeady.
Celtic Park was silenced when Dunfermline dared to score a 28th minute goal. Gary Dempsey and Mehmet combined to send Lee Bullen on a run up the left. His first cross towards Derek Young on the left edge of the six yard box was blocked out by keeper David Marshall. Bully collected the ball and sent a clever long ball over with his right foot for Barry NICHOLSON on the far side of the box. As Marshall scrambled back across goal the Pars captain volleyed the ball in at the right post to open the scoring. 0-1
Celtic’s efforts were restricted to long range and there were further Pars chances before the half time whistle. Darren Young won the visitors’ first corner in 44th minute when his shot went out off McManus. Nicholson sent in a right footed cross that Bullen won in the air but was over the bar with his attempt.
Half time: Celtic 0 Dunfermline 1
Celtic were out early for the second half and their haste quickly got them back into the match. A 47th minute corner won on the left was sent over from the right foot of McGeady and Henrik LARSSON got his head between the challenge of Nicholson and Shields to score at the near post. 1-1
Unusually it was Dunfermline who took the filip from the Celtic goal. For the next ten minutes they were allowed to keep possession and sweep the ball about the park. Noel Hunt replaced Billy Mehmet before the Dunfermline pressure was punctuated by another Dunfermline goal.
Mason’s ball to Darren Young was given to DEMPSEY who was given time to shoot from 25 yards out. The low driven ball bounced on the six yard line and beat the outstretched Marshall in 58th minute. 1-2
Celtic were almost back into it immediately when Varga’s header from a Thompson corner came off the base of the Pars right post. Mjallby hit the rebound but Stillie saved and Mason’s overhead kick sent the ball out for another corner.
In the 71st minute Hunt took the play to the other end and beat off Mjallby and Varga to get in as short from the angle on the left side of the six yard box to be saved by Marshall. McGeady’s shot five minutes later was over the bar and Craig Beattie was then introduced for him. Beattie caused mayhem with immediate effect.
The substitute drove in from the right and played a one-two off Larsson before sending in a stinging shot from 18 yards to cue another great Stillie save. Next Beattie got round the defence to send over a ball that Varga met at the far post. The big man managed to divert the ball over the bar when it must have been easier to net.
In 81st minute Dunfermline survived a 25 yard Thompson free kick and then intense Celtic pressure right through to the 94th minute. Celtic were encamped in the Pars penalty box but header after header cleared the danger.
Tackles were timely and the blocking was brilliant. Stillie was called on time again and with the very last move of the game the BBC Television Man of the Match denied Varga from close quarters.
The win raised hopes that third place might be possible but that was blown with 2-1 defeat at Tynecastle the following Saturday. Still the fourth place was Dunfermline’s best ever finish in the SPL.
As for the Scottish Cup, could the Celtic bubble be burst? Balde, Petrov, McNamara and Agathe could all be back for the final. This Celtic Park performance was fantastic and the win was registered without Crawford and Brewster as well! Could Jimmy Calderwood’s team repeat it the next time the clubs meet?
SUBS NOT USED: Ross Wallace, Rab Douglas (GK)
SCORERS: Larsson (47)
YELLOW CARD: Thompson (69)
DUNFERMLINE: Derek Stillie: Andrius Skerla, Greg Shields, Richie Byrne; Lee Bullen, Barry Nicholson, Darren Young, Gary Mason, Gary Dempsey (Sean Kilgannon 88); Billy Mehmet (Noel Hunt 55), Derek Young (Aaron Labonte 85)
SUBS NOT USED: David Grondin, Scott Y Thomson (GK)
SCORERS: Nicholson (28), Dempsey (58)
YELLOW CARD: Stillie (69)
REFEREE: Dougie McDonald
WEATHER: Overcast 14°C
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