Dunfermline Athletic

1996: Dundee United 0 Dunfermline 1

Memorable Match #40
Bells First Division
Saturday 27th April 1996
Tannadice Park

With two matches of the 1995-96 season remaining Dundee United sat top on 66 points. Hoping to bounce straight back into the SPL, they were being pursued by Dunfermline one point behind, with Morton and St Johnstone still harbouring their hopes.

It was a big match for both clubs. United fans were relishing the prospect that a victory would mean promotion. Pars fans had travelled in great numbers and you cut the atmosphere with a knife as Dunfermline kicked off in front of the all-ticket crowd.

Billy Kirkwood’s United went into the game unchanged from the side which had won at Firhill five days earlier. From the side that came back from 1-0 down at half time to defeat Dumbarton 4-1 the previous week, Dunfermline made one change Ivo Den Bieman coming in for Brian Rice.

There were some robust early exchanges that indicated the importance of the match but an early goal gave the Fifers something to hang on to and how they did. From ten yards inside his own half, Den Bieman launched a free kick towards the United goal that Allan Moore flicked on and while keeper Ally Maxwell and defender Grant Johnson tried to decide who would take the ball, Stewart PETRIE stole in to stab the ball home. 0-1

United’s response was to launch long balls upfield but Craig Brewster and Gary McSwegan failed to make anything out of them. Owen Coyle sent a fierce shot wide right and a Welsh shot was deflected narrowly over the crossbar by Andy Tod.

Petrie had what seemed like a just appeal for a penalty when held back in the box by Mark Perry but referee Alan Freeland did not agree. Brewster came out worst when Ian Westwater came out to punch away a Coyle cross.

Half time: Dundee United 0 Dunfermline 1

Christian Dailly replaced McSwegan for the the second half and he came close with a header on to the crossbar from a Bowman cross. At the other end Andy Smith’s 1-2 off Moore saw him into the United box but his attempt flew just outside the left post.

As the Pars clung on to their lead their task was made even tougher as Petrie was shown a second yellow card after his crunching tackle on Malpas. Replays of the challenge would later cast severe doubt over the referee’s decision but the Fifers would need to see the final 25 minutes of the match out with just ten men.

The game continued as if it was a cup tie with both keepers making significant saves. Despite Dailly yet again finding the woodwork from a Brewster corner, the Fifers proved that they had been hungrier for the win. They stopped United’s passing game and had scrapped and fought as if their lives depended on it.

The resounding victory meant that if Dunfermline defeated Airdrie on the last day of the season in their home match at East End Park then they would be promoted as champions.

After the Pars first victory at Tannadice for 22 years, captain Craig Robertson said :-

“It was vital today because we have stuttered in the second last game of the season over the last few years. It’s a new team and a lot of the lads haven’t gone through the agony I have for four years. They don’t know what disappointment is but I will drum it home to them because the attitude must be right against Airdrie.”

Indeed it was as the Pars went out the following week against the seventh placed Diamonds and won 2-1 to win promotion to the SPL. Dundee United and Morton were hoping for the Fifers to fail at the final hurdle but the teams in joint second drew 1-1 and the Pars were champions by four points.

DUNDEE UNITED: Ally Maxwell: Brian Welsh, Maurice Malpas, Steven Pressley, Mark Perry (Andy McLaren 75), Dave Bowman, Grant Johnson, Craig Brewster, Owen Coyle, Robbie Winters, Gary McSwegan (Christian Dailly HT).
SUB NOT USED: Kelham O’Hanlon
YELLOW CARDS: Malpas (50), Welsh (77), Maxwell (87)

DUNFERMLINE: Ian Westwater: Colin Miller, Marc Millar, Ivo den Bieman, Andy Tod, Derek Fleming, Allan Moore (Brian Rice 77), Craig Robertson, Andy Smith (Greg Shaw 89), Hamish French, Stewart Petrie.
SUB NOT USED: Guido van de Kamp
YELLOW CARDS: Petrie (21), Moore (25), French (38), Millar (49)
RED CARD: Petrie (65)

REFEREE: Alan Freeland, Aberdeen

NEXT MATCH: Bells First Division (home) v Airdrie, Saturday 2nd May 1996

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