Dunfermline Athletic

2000: Dunfermline 0 Arsenal 3

Memorable Match #90
Stadium Opener Friendly
East End Park
Wednesday 7th August 2000

After East End Park was transformed to provide seating and improved facilities in both stands behind the goals, the stadium opener was a friendly against a star studded Arsenal, whose starting line up was valued at cost as £40m. In contrast Dunfermline`s stadium development investment might have looked insignificant but a crowd of 10,330 joined the world stars to grace the occasion.

The notion of a friendly match against one of England’s best clubs might easily have been viewed with cynicism in some quarters but this was no ordinary friendly. For a start, Arsene Wenger was true to his word and brought a full array of top stars to mark the opening of the new stands.

What a wonderful sight the stadium was when filled on all four sides by fans. The large crowd were treated to a display of supreme skill from the many international players on view and Arsenal won in the end by a handsome margin.

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 uncomfortable traveller Dennis Bergkamp predictably did not show up. From the kick off Arsenal immediately demonstrated pace and threat. 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.

With 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 Dixon ball through to Freddie LJUNGBERG who made no mistake in doubling the lead.

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.

Next 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 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.

Half time: Dunfermline 0 Arsenal 3

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 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.

David Moss making his season debut had a headed attempt after 70 minutes and he and Owen Coyle got stuck in momentarily rousing the home support. Coyle and Graham combined to put Scott Thomson deep into the Arsenal box but his final touch was not 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 many Kanu`s touches and trickery were the most memorable thing to take from this classy Arsenal performance.

DUNFERMLINE: Marco Ruitenbeek (Scott Y Thomson HT), Eddie May (Brian Reid 58), Andrius Skerla (Andy Tod 72), Justin Skinner (Rob Matthaei 65), Jason Dair; Barry Nicholson, Ian Ferguson (David Moss 65), Scott Thomson, Stewart Petrie; Junior Mendes (Owen Coyle 58), Stevie Crawford (David Graham 72)

ARSENAL: David Seaman (Alex Manninger HT), Lee Dixon (Guy Demel 68), Oleh Luzhny, Tony Adams, Sylvinho (Ashley Cole 68); Lauren, Freddie Ljungberg, Patrick Viera (Stefan Malz 68), Robert Pires (Ray Parlour HT); Thierry Henry (Christopher Wreh 68), Kanu.
SCORERS: Henry (7), Ljungberg (9), Kanu (32)

REFEREE: John Rowbottom (Kirkcaldy)
WEATHER: Mild but wet

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