1972: Rangers 3 Dunfermline 4
Memorable Match #100
Scottish First Division
Last Pars win at Ibrox Stadium
Thursday 27th April 1972
Foot of the table Dunfermline took two points off third placed Rangers to keep their survival hopes alive. Their win meant the relegation issue was taken to the last day of the season with four teams battling it out to avoid the drop.
Dunfermline certainly didn’t play like a side in relegation trouble. There was a refreshing touch about their teamwork and they picked Ibrox for the venue for their best scoring performance of the season.
While all did well Callaghan, Lunn, McNicoll, Leishman and Mackie earned extra marks. Rangers may have been suffering from a Scottish Cup hang over but they played some excellent football without getting any breaks.
John Greig was badly missed by Rangers and the forward line wasn’t a success, despite scoring three goals. More should have been made of Henderson’s pin-point centres. Henderson was prominent in the early stages with some typical touch-line bursts and centres but the Fifers marking was good and the danger averted.
Mathieson was next to catch the eye with a dash down the left and a rocket shot on the run but the ball finished well off target. Conn was also at fault in centring behind with all his colleagues well placed in the middle.
Barrie Mitchell was prominent in the Dunfermline attack as the Fifers hit back. He spread the play most intelligently and one pass to Callaghan let the right back sweep the ball to the far post where Jim Gillespie just failed to head in. However the Fifers were jumping for joy when Kenny MACKIE gave them the lead in the ninth minute. The young centre timed the flight of a Kenny Thomson cross to perfection to head well beyond Peter McCloy’s reach. 0-1
Pars keeper John Arrol denied Rangers an equaliser with a superb save high up when Willie Johnston nodded a Henderson centre for the net. Then Callaghan tested McCloy from a 25 yard free kick.
Rangers did draw level however in 13th minute. Alex MACDONALD fastened on to a through ball from Henderson and crashed it past Arrol as the keeper came out in a vain attempt to narrow the angle. 1-1
A minute later MACDONALD shot in a second goal for Rangers from 15 yards when Colin Stein headed a Johnston cross into the left winger’s path. 2-1
Goals were coming fast, THOMSON equalised for Dunfermline five minutes later, pivoting on a lovely pass from Jim Scott and beating McCloy all ends up with a cracking right footed shot from 18 yards. 2-2
The Fifers did not look like a foot of the table side, on the contrary they were challenging every ball and matching Rangers at every turn. Scott got Dunfermline out of a tight spot when Henderson and Stein were left with only Arrol to beat. The inside left, back helping his hard pressed colleagues, nipped in to dispossess the Ibrox pair.
Mitchell was again prominent with a solo run down the left in which he left two opponents trailing before teeing up Jim Leishman to have a go. But the left half was too late in setting his sights and Sandy Jardine did not give him a second chance. Mitchell should have done better than fire a perfectly headed pass from Mackie yards over with only the keeper to beat.
There was a shock for Rangers when Dunfermline got a gift of a third goal seconds from the interval. Mackie out on the right sent a crossfield ball to Gillespie who was hotly challenged by JARDINE. The right back won the ball, lofted it back to McCloy but far too high and the ball soared over the keeper’s head and into the net. 2-3
Half Time: Rangers 2 Dunfermline 3
Dunfermline started the second half with Mackie latching on to a long clearance from Arrol and letting fly on the run from the left. McCloy saved in splendid fashion. Mackie was needle-sharp for the Fifers and the Rangers defence had to watch him closely.
1972-73 squad: Back Row: Paterson, Beresford, McLardy, Marshall, Mercer, Pate. Middle Row: Miller, Mackie, Wallace, Tempany, McGarr, Fraser, Arrol, McNicoll, Leishman, Gillespie.
Front Row: Brine, Edmonds, Thomson, Kinninmonth, Callaghan, Scott, Lunn, Brown, Hamill
When Rangers counter-attacked they found the tight marking Dunfermline defence thwarting them at every turn and the crowd groaned as promising moves were stifled. McCloy had another fine save in cutting out a fast cross from Thomson before Gillespie could make contact. Then the keeper finger-tipped a Lunn rocket over the bar.
Dunfermline kept up their attacks. A Gillespie pile driver had such sting behind it that the ball broke from McCloy’s grasp but there were no Pars players to cash in. McCloy was by far the busier keeper now as Dunfermline battled to get the fourth goal that would clinch things.
But it came at the other end as Lunn conceded a corner when stopping Henderson. The right winger’s kick was headed home by STEIN on the hour. 3-3
Leishman tried to regain the lead for the Fifers with a strong shot from 30 yards that was only a foot off target. Mitchell had a chance from a 20 yard free kick but he blasted wide. Gillespie was also at fault in a further raid in being too late with his cross after outstripping Jardine.
Stein missed a chance from a Johnston free kick shooting wide with only Arrol to beat. The Fifers had another lucky break when a Jardine thunderbolt from a Henderson free kick flew past the far post.
A dazzling touchline burst by Gillespie and a high ball to the far post let Leishman head to Mackie who was in good position but before the centre forward could get in his shot McCloy dashed from his charge to gather the ball.
A thrilling moment when Mackie chased a long ball from Leishman and flicked it past McCloy as the keeper came out. But this wasn’t to be the last Dunfermline player to score the winning goal at Ibrox since as it was about to cross the line Mathieson appeared from nowhere to boot it away for a corner.
The honour of the winning goal fell to someone else in the 81st minute. Callaghan did the lead up and LEISHMAN weaved his way past two defenders before beating McCloy via the far post. 3-4
Pars manager George Miller said of the game:-
“It is never easy to get points at Ibrox but the players approached the game with determination and a will to win and they were rewarded. They are in no doubt as to what staying in the First Division means to them and I think we can look forward to a spirited display against an improving Dundee United.”
Scorer of the winning goal, Jim Leishman has talked about his feat ever since that night in April 1972, retelling his story on any occasion that gives him a platform to celebrate it.
On the final day of the season East Fife, Airdrie and Clyde all picked up one point but the Pars lost 1-0 to Jim McLean`s United in front of a crowd of 8500 and were relegated to the Second Division where they would play for the first time since 1958.
Less than a month later Rangers defeated Moscow Dynamo 3-2 in Barcelona in the final of the European Cup Winners Cup. For the final into the team that had faced Dunfermline came John Greig and Tommy McLean at the expense of Willie Henderson and Colin Jackson.
RANGERS: Peter McCloy: Sandy Jardine, Willie Mathieson, Alfie Conn, Colin Jackson, Dave Smith: Willie Henderson, Derek Johnstone, Colin Stein, Willie Johnston, Alex Macdonald
SUB: Andy Penman
SCORERS: Macdonald (13, 14), Stein (60)
DUNFERMLINE: John Arrol: Willie Callaghan, John Lunn: Jim Fraser, Dave McNicoll, Jim Leishman, Kenny Thomson, Barrie Mitchell, Ken Mackie, Jim Scott, Jim Gillespie
SUB: Bonar Mercer
SCORERS: Mackie (9), Thomson (19), Jardine (45 og), Leishman (81)
REFEREE: E Pringle, East Kilbride
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- 1965: Rangers 2 Dunfermline 3
- 1974: Dunfermline 3 Celtic/Rangers Select 3
- 1985: Dunfermline 1 Aberdeen 0
- 1966: Dunfermline 2 Kilmarnock 1
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