Dunfermline 3 Inverness Caley Thistle 2
Tennent’s Scottish Cup Semi Final Replay, Tuesday 20th April 2004
A gem of a goal from skipper Barry Nicholson secured Dunfermline’s place in the Scottish Cup Final, their first since 1968 and inclusion in next season’s UEFA Cup.
The Pars had made the semi finals after knocking out Dundee United, Clyde and Partick Thistle. Inverness had successfully come through ties against Brechin City, St Mirren and Motherwell. Favourites Celtic had knocked out Rangers in the last eight and would overcome Livingston in the other semi final.
Ten days before the Fifers met the Highlanders at Hampden Park in front of 13,255 fans but couldn’t be separated after a 1-1 draw so the Semi Final went to a replay. The choice of Pittodrie as the venue was subject of disquiet but it was clear that Jimmy Calderwood, his players and travelling support were not going to have Inverness Caley Thistle spoil the chance of the Pars qualifying for European football for the first time in 35 years.
Dunfermline welcomed the return of their recently out-injured defenders Scott Wilson and Lee Bullen as the starting line up saw nine changes from the team that lined up against Dundee United on the previous Saturday. First Division Inverness Caley had their scorer from the first game, Paul Ritchie back but Barry Wilson failed a late fitness test.
Caley kicked off playing towards the Pars supporters in the lower half of the Richard Donald Stand. The South Stand was completely empty but by condensing the small crowd there was a great cup atmosphere as the Pars made the first effort at goal after three minutes. When Darren Young was fouled Barry Nicholson launched a free kick that led to Craig Brewster hitting the ball over the top from 12 yards.
There had been early warnings from two Liam Keogh free kicks and David Bingham amazingly managing to head wide of the left post but after seven minutes the Pars found themselves behind. They were pushing up when possession was lost deep inside the Caley half. Bingham burst away, released a ball to his left splitting the defence to set up Paul RITCHIE with a run in on goal. The Caley striker shot right footed through the advancing Stillie. 0-1
The goal stunned Athletic who immediately tried to get back on level terms but in 19th minute Inverness came incredibly close to adding a second. Another corner for Inverness Caley meant Keogh sent over for Steven Hislop to jump in front of Brewster to send a glancing header narrowly wide left.
Midway through the half the best Pars chance so far fell to Bullen. He headed a Bobby Mann header towards Stevie Crawford who touched it back to Bully but Ross Tokely timed his tackle perfectly and it was gone. The equaliser was not far off thankfully.
In the 25th minute Craig Brewster was deep in the centre of the opposition half to play a fine ball out to the left where Bully raced on to it and delivered a great ball low into the six yard area. DARREN YOUNG met the pass early right footing it beyond the keeper’s outstretched left foot into the far side of the net. 1-1
Caley keeper Mark Brown pulled off an incredible save from Brewster as the Pars began to enjoy lots more possession. Their first corner of the evening came in 36th minute when Brewster’s left footed shot from the edge of the box was touched over by Brown. Then a Gary Dempsey pass to Brewster was chested down and touched with his left for Stevie Crawford to try a shot from inside the D on the top of the box. The Scotland man’s shot was wide right of target.
Dunfermline kicked the second half off and keeper Mark Brown was in early action when Crawford sent Derek Young down the left to cross into the six yard box.
The Fifers might have gone behind however in 59th minute. Thomson sent a great ball out left and Hislop’s shot at an angle from the left hit the crossbar. Golabek next crashed a low shot narrowly wide. Caley’s pressure was almost converted into a lead when Tokely got to the right byeline to send over a good ball that Ritchie rose to head towards goal. The outstretched Pars keeper then pulled off a great save to keep the scores level.
Having survived all that Craig BREWSTER then turned the fortunes. A neat reverse pass from Dempsey put the 37 year old striker into the left side of the penalty box and he made no mistake with a left footed shot off the inside of the right goalpost to put the Pars into a 2-1 lead.
Twenty two year old Richie Byrne was introduced for Dempsey midway through the half and things got heated with three yellow cards in four minutes.
Two minutes later however captain Barry NICHOLSON sent the Pars support delirious with a great individual goal. Lee Bullen pushed a straight ball in for Barry he got away from his man and there n twisted his way passed Golabek, evaded McCaffrey’s challenge and sidefooted in at a tight angle from eight yards. Commentators will compare it with the Archie Gemmill goal in Argentina and even Barry would admit that he couldn’t recall scoring a better one.
Skerla and his defence then booted everything clear and there should have been no way back for Robbo’s men. Stillie was out to head away a long ball but Caley were kept well away until the 92nd minute. Scott Wilson’s knee took down Darren Mackie and Hugh Dallas had no hesitation in giving the penalty.
David BINGHAM stepped up and stroked the ball left into the net passed Derek Stillie to cut the lead back to one but time was against Inverness and the final whistle soon arrived. Everyone went mad. Management team and crowd. The players applauded the crowd and vice versa. Just for once no one wanted to leave Pittodrie.
Brewster as ever was so important for the Pars but Andrius Skerla played with great determination in the centre of the defence too. Calderwood’s team were worthy winners and only Celtic stood between them and legendary status.
Awoken after 35 years Dunfermline, the Rip van Winkel of European competition were back.
DUNFERMLINE: Derek Stillie; Andrius Skerla, Scott Wilson, Lee Bullen; Barry Nicholson (c), Darren Young, Gary Dempsey (Richie Byrne 67), Gary Mason (Aaron Labonte 76), Derek Young; Stevie Crawford, Craig Brewster
SUBS NOT USED: Billy Mehmet, Andy Tod, Scott Y Thomson (GK).
SCORERS: Darren Young (25), Brewster (63), Nicholson (78)
YELLOW CARD: Skerla (68)
INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE: Mark Brown; Ross Tokely (David Proctor 85), Bobby Mann, Stuart McCaffrey, Stuart Golabek; Liam Keogh, Roy McBain, Russell Duncan (Darren Thomson 51); Steven Hislop, Paul Ritchie (Darren Mackie 76), David Bingham
SUBS NOT USED: Grant Munro, Michael Fraser (GK).
SCORERS: Ritchie (7), Bingham (93)
YELLOW CARDS: Bingham (69), Hislop (72)
REFEREE: Hugh Dallas
WEATHER: Sunny Cool 8C
KICK OFF: 19:45
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