Dunfermline Athletic

2005: Gretna 0 Dunfermline 1

Memorable Match #44
CIS Insurance Cup, Second Round
Tuesday 23rd August 2005
Raydale Park, Gretna

Back when Gretna FC were not a phenomenon but a mere success story, they were rewarded with a home tie in the League Cup against Premier League, Dunfermline Athletic.

As the only Scottish club playing competitive football in England, Gretna had competed in the FA Cup and in the 2001-2002 season had finished seventh Unibond League - the level below the Northern Premier. Then when the demise of Airdrieonians happened they were admitted to the Scottish Third Division for the following season.

In a fairytale of a football story, Gretna won three consecutive promotions from 2004-05 through to 2006-07 that saw them play in the Premier League within five years of their admission to the league.

They finished sixth and third before winning the title in 2004-2005 by a 20 point gap and a fantastic +101 goal difference. They cantered to the next season’s Division Two title, 18 points clear of second placed Morton. Then the following season they clinched the First Division title in a dramatic final day.

Brooks Mileson, the charismatic managing director of the village`s professional football club had provided the funds to enable Rowan Alexander to deliver success and the club had forged links with over 100 schools in the south of Scotland.

In the midst of this rapid rise to fame, Gretna were drawn at home to Dunfermline in the League Cup. The confidence filled Second Division team would take on a Premier League side that was yet to win a match that season.

The locals in the village of just 2700 gave the Fifers a big welcome and their optimism was shared with BBC radio and television out in force to witness a possible CIS Cup shock.

Dunfermline made one change from the side that played at Livingston on Saturday, Scott Thomson returning from injury in place of Greg Shields out with a cartledge injury.

Lee Makel fired a first minute free kick over the crossbar from 25 yards but Gretna were soon on the offensive Baldacchino latching on to a weak Mason pass and testing Bryn Halliwell in 4 minutes.

Kenny Deuchar was next to exercise the Pars keeper intercepting a Scott Wilson header before releasing a shot that Halliwell turned around his left hand post. The home side continued to have the best of the early play forcing three corners when the Pars again lived dangerously. Tosh had his shot deflected for the second corner and there were anxious moments from the next corner too.

In the 14th minute Ryan McGuffie broke through and Halliwell blocked heroically leaving Baldacchino with an open goal but he managed to blast the ball over the bar!

Well against the run of play Dunfermline were presented with a chance after Darren Young dispossessed Jamie McQuilken on the right wing and shot at Alan Main. The rebound sat up nicely for Mark BURCHILL to slot home from 16 yards. 0-1

Going a goal down did little to deter Gretna`s attacking habit. Further corners came their way with James Grady appealling for a penalty as the ball was defended from one on the left in 24 minutes. Gretna looked sure to score in 29 minutes but a last gasp tackle by Aaron Labonte denied David Bingham from eight yards.

Dunfermline were not in the game but might have gone two up on the half hour had Burchill cross not been too fast for Tarachulski to divert passed Main from six yards. Instead the ball flew through the six yard box.

In the final minute of the first half Townsley was yellow carded for protesting after a corner from the right resulted in a melee in the Pars penalty box and the ball striking a Pars hand.

Half time: Gretna 0 Dunfermline 1

After the interval Gretna were waiting for Dunfermline keen to resume from where they left off. Playing into the rain Rowan Alexander`s team continued to pile the pressure on the Pars defence. When Tod conceded a corner with a desperate clearance from a Tosh`s shot the set piece dropped to Bingham on the far side of the penalty box and his thundering shot was delicately headed off the line by Makel.

Gretna were full of pace and had plenty of ideas but the Dunfermline defence held fast. Having replaced Tarachulski in 62nd minute, Derek Young provided brief respite for his defence earning a free kick when Townsley was the only man to beat.

Fifteen minutes from time a swift forward move from McGuffie to Bingham set up Deuchar nicely but his effort from the edge of the box was turned away yet again by the black-shirted defence. Bingham`s stinging shot from 20 yards was set to burst the net and might have but for the body of Gary Mason which was floored by the force of it and yet again the defence survived.

With nine minutes remaining Alexander and Iron`s in the Gretna dugout withdrew both their wingbacks, throwing on Davie Nicholls and Gavin Skelton. The move almost had immediate dividends when Nicholls thundered in a McGuffie lay off that was just inches wide of Halliwell`s left post.

Under all the pressure there was a feeling of inevitability that Gretna just had to score. This was certainly not recommended viewing for Athletic fans of a nervous disposition.

After two minutes and 20 seconds of added time, referee Dougie McDonald brought the contest to an end. If it had been decided on possession, shots and corners, Dunfermline would have been out but they have to thank the fantastic display from keeper Bryn Halliwell behind his resolute defence.

Under the guidance of manager Jim Leishman, Dunfermline went on to defeat Kilmarnock in the next round and then Hibs and Livingston to the CIS Insurance Cup Final against Celtic.

GRETNA: Alan Main; Derek Collins (Gavin Skelton 85), Derek Townsley, Chris Innes, Jamie McQuilken (David Nicholls 85); Steven Tosh, Ryan Baldacchino, Ryan McGuffie, David Bingham; Kenny Deuchar, James Grady
SUBS NOT USED: Andy Aitken, David Graham, David Mathieson (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Townsley (45+1), Deuchar (87)

DUNFERMLINE: Bryn Halliwell; Andy Tod, Scott Wilson, Scott Thomson; Aaron Labonte, Lee Makel, Darren Young, Gary Mason, Iain Campbell; Bartosz Tarachulski (Derek Young 62), Mark Burchill (Noel Hunt 73)
SUBS NOT USED: Craig Wilson, Derek Young, Greg Ross, Sean Murdoch (GK)
SCORERS: Burchill (17)
YELLOW CARD: Campbell (84)

REFEREE: Dougie McDonald
WEATHER: Dull, wet, windy 16°C

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