Motherwell 1, Dunfermline 0

Match Date: Thursday, April 15 2004
Competition: Scottish Premier League
Attendance: 3,920
Motherwell Team (4-4-2):

Marshall, Quinn, Craigan, Corrigan, Hammell, Lasley (Fagan 87), Adams, O'Donnell, Dair, Craig (Clarkson 82), Burns.
Subs not used: Corr, Kinniburgh, Wright.

Motherwell scorer: Adams (9 pen).

Booked: Lasley.


Motherwell 1 Dunfermline Athletic 0

FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE INCEPTION OF THE TOP SIX, MOTHERWELL secured their place amongst those win a hard-fought win over Dunfermline. Bar some desperate defending from the visitors it could have been a more comfortable win in the end.

The Fir Parkers welcomed back Keith Lasley, and he made an early run form midfield. Craig was caught late as he released a pass but there was no action taken against Nicholson. His teammate Bullen burst away with the ball though Burns cut the pass forward out. Quinn was then dispossessed by Mehmet and as he tried to find Young Corrigan intercepted. Mehmet then won a corner as his cross clipped off Corrigan, though the Motherwell defender cleared himself. Burns collected and found Craig who was hustled off the ball by Skerla. Another late challenge came in from Mason though this time there was a free kick. Shortly afterwards Motherwell were awarded a penalty. Craig found Dair and as he turned Labonte the defender tripped Dair with Referee Murray pointing to the spot. Derek Adams stepped up and sent Stillie the wrong way to put Motherwell ahead. However, within a minute the scores were almost level. The visitors' first serious attack saw A cross from Shields bounced between Corrigan and Craigan giving Dempsey a chance though Marshall was on hand to save superbly. Keith Lasley saw his return marked with a booking for was was no worse a challenge than had occurred earlier, with Bullen unable to recover as he fell on the pitch. He was replaced by Byrne, with the free kick held by Marshall. Motherwell were awarded a free kick when Adams was caught by Dempsey. Defender Skerla intercepted the ball but found only Dair. His flick was almost sent goalwards by O'Donnell with Stillie gathering. 

The visitors gained a corner when Hammell blocked from Nicholson. Craigan cleared only as far as Nicholson but Lasley completed. Corrigan was then adjudged to have fouled Nicholson but the defence saw the danger out. Stevie Hammell needed time to recover from a rough Shields tackle. Hammell picked out O'Donnell but Stillie was equal to the header. Dunfermline had a free kick in their favour after a Dair trip had Nicholson on the ground. Once again stout Craigan defending did the business. Labonte put in a cross for Mason though there was Craigan. Mason was then dispossessed by Lasley who found Burns but with no support the cross only found Stillie. A great save from Marshall kept Motherwell ahead. Byrne and Mehmet combined to set up Dempsey but the Keeper parried with Craigan hooking away. Todd then had a chance from a free kick but headed well over. At the other end a last gasp header off the line stopped Motherwell going further ahead. Shields was beaten to the ball by Dair and his header was goal-bound until Skerla headed narrowly over bang on the goal line. After a free kick to Dunfermline after Lasley had fouled Dempsey the ball was claimed by Marshall. He immediately set Motherwell away with Dair racing upfield but after finding O'Donnell, Nicholson intercepted. O'Donnell was more successful with a pass to Burns but his angled drive was held by Stillie. A vital stop by Corrigan then prevented Young making contact with a Todd header. Marshall then had to save well when Young fired in a 25-yard shot. Just before the break a Dempsey free kick slipped right through the hands of Marshall and beyond everyone for a corner. Motherwell had a valid penalty claim denied when Labonte handled a Dair effort. Just before the break more crucial defending from Skerla denied the Fir Parkers. Dair headed a Burns cross over Stillie but again Skerla was on hand to nick the ball away. 

Half Time     Motherwell  1     Dunfermline Athletic  0

An early error by Mehmet allowed Motherwell to win a corner. Dempsey cleared as far as O'Donnell whose 20yard shot sliced wide. Craig and Burns then split the visiting defence though the latter's cross was poor. A very late Mehmet tackle had Craigan writing in pain though there was only a free kick. And just a minute later Craigan again was hit, this time by Young, again no card on show. Dunfermline took almost ten minutes to register anything in the second, a long Dempsey throw, nicked on by Young, found Shields who headed over. Craig then broke wide but his cross was too near Stillie. On the hour mark Motherwell should have doubled their advantage. Burns did well to find Dair and although clear on Stillie he chose to take the chance early and drove well over the bar from the edge of the box. Lasley had to pick himself up after a trip by Mason though the free kick came to nothing. Dunfermline made a double change soon after, Mehmet and Todd replaced by Crawford and Brewster. The two subs had an immediate impact when a Mason pass found Brewster. His one-two with Young opened up a chance though he drove wide. Skerla met a corner from Dempsey but Corrigan was there to clear. Craigan and Mason then challenged but as the ball came to Brewster he shot wide but was given a corner. Young headed in but Marshall took at the second attempt. His opposite number then made a vital stop when he tipped Dair's cross over the head of Craig who looked set to nod home. 

A break by Young took play upfield. He tried to find Crawford but instead took the attempted clearance and shot over. Dempsey escaped punishment when he took out Quinn late. Shields then had to be sharp to deny Craig. The Motherwell striker then pounced on a loose pass to race away down the wing. He exchanged the ball with Adams but headed the return wide of Stillie and the post. Byrne became the second booking of the match for a bad challenge on Lasley. From the free kick Hammell picked out Burns and his looping header crept beyond the post with Stillie beaten. A misplaced Brewster pass allowed Motherwell to race away up the park. Dair crossed in buy Labonte was on hand to knock behind with Craig hovering. The corner fell to Craigan and he appeared to be tripped by Mehmet inside the box but there was no penalty given. Labonte then handled inside the box but again the Referee failed to spot. Skerla and Craig clashed near the visiting box and whilst it looked to have fell the way of Craig Referee Murray decided otherwise. An error from Quinn presented a chance for Brewster but he was unable to take advantage and drove over. Motherwell made a change, Stevie Craig replaced by David Clarkson. Two decisions then enraged the Fir Park fans and players alike. Firstly, Clarkson was clearly tugged back by Skerla with no stop in play. Then a violent, unnecessary over the top tackle by Byrne had Lasley in obvious pain. The Motherwell man was very lucky not to sustain serious injury, with neither the Referee nor the Linesman, both in great position, failing to take action. Lasley recovered, but was soon subbed by Fagan. Motherwell attacked with Dair finding Adams but his drive inched over the bar. Clarkson then won the ball from Labonte but failed to find Burns. Teammate Craigan then won the ball from Mason who fell over in convincing fashion. Young took the free kick but Marshall held, and the match was won.

Full time     Motherwell  1     Dunfermline Athletic  0

Match Report by Ricky Mullen