2011: Dunfermline 2 Raith Rovers 1
Memorable Match #2
Irn Bru First Division
Saturday 24th April 2011
Tickets were snapped up early when the top two teams in the First Division clashed in a game that could go a long way to decide which club was going to gain promotion to the SPL this season.
Dunfermline sat top of the table on 61 points one ahead of the Rovers but given their superior goal difference a win for the Pars would leave them requiring no more than three points from their last two games to secure the title.
The Pars went into the match on the back of three successive wins and were unbeaten in their last nine games.
Raith would be formidable opponents, they had lost only two games away from home in this league campaign and conceded just ten goals on the road - the best record in the SFL.
It was the biggest derby match since May 1995 and after the sell out Scott Thomson Testimonial match against Manchester United, attracted the largest crowd to East End Park since it became all seated. The Raith end was near capacity by 2.30pm and large numbers of Pars supporters were still streaming in. The Pars ‘cage’ moved from the centre line to the north east corner to ensure a good Dunfermline ‘welcome’ for the travelling support from Kirkcaldy.
Jim McIntyre as always was taking it one match at a time but there was no need for the manager to impress upon his squad just how much was at stake and just how much was expected from those chosen to face John McGlynn`s side.
Macca made two changes - the suspended Kevin Rutkiewicz replaced by Chris Higgins and Calum Woods returned in place of Neil McGregor. The teams emerged into a real cauldron of noise and Raith Rovers kicked off in the pouring rain attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end.
There were early efforts from David Graham and Martin Hardie who was closed out and a Joe Cardle cross was dealt with by the Rovers defence.
There was a scare for Raith in 11 minutes when Higgins free kick was pumped from inside his own half into the opposing penalty box where Andy McNeil came rushing out but the ball went over the goalkeeper who could only fingertip it as the ball dropped outside the right goalpost.
Dunfermline began to take a grip of the match though. Cardle’s inswinger was glanced over the crossbar by Liam Buchanan. Andy Kirk crashed the ball past McNeill but the ball was kept out by the crossbar. Cardle shot the ball over the bar and Hardie smashed a shot wide as it continued to be all Dunfermline.
Raith had been restricted for much of the game before Allan Walker sent in a 41st minute free kick from the right. A downward header from Laurie Ellis came back out of keeper Chris Smith’s hands for John BAIRD to poke home for the opener. 0-1
It was a first half totally dominated by the home team but the keeper’s blunder meant they went in one down.
Half Time: Dunfermline 0 Raith Rovers 1
A corner from the left was to bring the much needed equaliser just ten minutes into the second half. Cardle delivered deep and Martin HARDIE headed the ball back into the net as McNeill swept across in an attempt to keep it out. 1-1
Dunfermline went all out for a winner with Hardie, Cardle, Kirk and sub Steven McDougall all testing the Rovers defence. Roared on by the home support the Pars continued to sweep up the park at Raith as the sun threatened to shine on East End Park. The visitors were not totally out of it though and in front of the away support Baird fired wide with a dipping volley from 25 yards.
With 15 minutes remaining, Graham Bayne was then introduced for the tiring Cardle and minutes later a free kick 28 yards out handed Dunfermline a great chance. HARDIE stepped up and waited while Rovers built a six man wall with McDougall ‘s Pars shirt getting in amongst them. The drive sailed into the right of the goal giving the diving McNeill no chance. 2-1 to the Pars in 78th minute.
Bright sunshine then bathed East End Park mirroring how things were looking for the Pars SPL hopes. McGlynn went 4-3-3 but big cheers greeted Smith’s clutching of a Raith corner in 88 minutes.
East End Park was on its feet as the game drew to a close. After three minutes of added time referee George Salmond blew for full time and that meant three points and a four point lead at the top of the First Division. Great scenes on and off the park, two games to go - Morton and Falkirk - and their fate in their own hands.
The Pars would win both matches and finish nine points clear of runners up Raith in collecting the First Division title and secure their promotion back to the SPL after a four season absence.
DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith; Calum Woods, Chris Higgins, Alex Keddie, Austin McCann (c); David Graham, Gary Mason, Martin Hardie, Joe Cardle (Graham Bayne 75), Liam Buchanan (Steven McDougall 67), Andy Kirk (Andy Dowie 85).
SUBS NOT USED: Nick Phinn, Greg Paterson (GK).
SCORERS: Hardie (55, 78)
YELLOW CARD: Hardie (78), Woods (85)
RAITH ROVERS: Andrew McNeil; Craig Wilson (Graham Weir 84), Grant Murray, Mark Campbell, Laurence Ellis; Allan Walker, Kevin McBride, Ian Davidson, Stephen Simmons; John Baird, Gregory Tade.
SUBS NOT USED: Mark Ferry, Dougie Hill, Iain Williamson, David McGurn (GK).
SCORERS: Baird (41)
YELLOW CARD: Murray (54), Ellis
REFEREE: George Salmond
WEATHER: Rain 14°C
NEXT MATCH: (away) SFL First Division v Morton
Saturday 30th April 2011, kick off 3:00pm
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