Date: 11th February 2007 at 8:21am
Written by:

Aberdeen beat Dunfermline 3-0 for the second time this season and for the third time in total. The hyped-up grudge matches have been pretty one sided as Aberdeen confirmed that they have received the better end of the manager/ coach/ players swap.

The Dunfermline side lined up with six ex-Dons on their team sheet and were no doubt intending to prove a point to their former employers as well as trying to secure their SPL status. Aberdeen had only one ex-Par in their squad for the match but more significantly they had the man who picked it. Ex-Dunfermline Jimmy Calderwood has been too modest to say that his departure from East End Park and arrival in the north east has brought about the dramatic transformation in both clubs but it`s too coincidental to ignore. But for Jimmy`s arrival, the fortunes of both clubs could have been switched and as was all too often prior to his switch, the Dons could have again been fighting to save their skin this season instead of the days challengers.

It`s beyond the critical stage for the Pars, a manager change and some new faces have bore no fruit in the league but this was a match Jimmy Calderwood was fearful of.

He had concluded that with Celtic coming to visit Pittodrie next week that his side might not be as focused on winning this one despite their opponents having knocked out Rangers and Hearts in the Scottish Cup recently.

Jimmy was clearly wary of the fixture when he admitted that he`d have been happy by winning by the smallest of margins despite the oppositions` rock bottom placing when he said ‘I would have settled for 1-0, though, and while everyone expects you to win these games, it is not that easy.’

His humble views were probably echoed by the majority of the home support when Dunfermline came out showing plenty of fight and actually had more of the ball before the home side claimed their first strike. As always though, possession doesn`t win matches alone and despite their hunger and obvious spirit, Dunfermline found themselves behind after 33 minutes.

Scott Severin started the move with a pass to Mackie, who just managed to stay onside, and the 25-year-old moved into the 18-yard-box before cutting the ball back to Chris Clark.

The Scotland B squad stars` instant shot was blocked from finding the back of the net by a mob of black shirts, but from the rebound Mackie steered a well-measured shot inside the far post from the tightest of angles and knock a bit of fight out of their relegation haunted adversaries.

Whilst no doubt happy at winning come half time, Calderwood will know that the good chances wasted by Clark, Lovell and Mackie in the first period will be very costly against next weeks more illustrious opposition when they come knocking, hoping to win the league in record time.

The Dons came out of the break keen to finish the match off and Severin forced a good save from De Vries early on but the disappointing crowd of 9, 379 were about to witness something quite unique at Pittodrie. Referee Brian Winter pointed to the spot when he saw the ball play off ex-Celtic and Hearts player Stephen Simmons arm. Aberdeen fans can be excused for not knowing what the repercussions of this are, it`s not happened to a Dons team since 1st of October 2005, that`s 16 months ago, but the result is a penalty kick and every team can be awarded one!!

Barry Nicholson stepped up into the unknown and right footed his kick low, down the middle of the goal to beat the non-telepathic De Vries who had wrongly already dived, which piled more misery onto the ‘keeper after he was booked for booting the ball off the spot in protest prior to Nicholson`s landmark chance.

In fairness, Dunfermline fought on and Phil Maguire, playing on his old pitch after a spell with Doncaster Rovers, should have brought his team back into things but he directed his header wide of Langfield`s unguarded goal after a free kick set piece. The Dons goal was again threatened by an “old boy” soon after as Langfield was called into making and excellent save from Jim Hamilton`s volley but it was the home side who would go on and wrap things up with the next goal despite the Dunfermline pressure, in the 83rd minute.

A Jamie Langfield throw was collected by Mackie and the ball was worked across the pitch, via Lee Miller, to Hart on the right wing. The defender sent a brilliant cross into the Pars’ box and on a day of peculiar events, Steve Lovell was perfectly placed to push a controlled right-footed shot past the cruelly exposed De Vries for his first goal of the season from a starting spot.

The win naturally pleased Dons boss Calderwood who, after choosing a subs bench consisting of only one recognised defender and three strikers,` was always going to go for the win despite his reservations about Dunfermline’s plight and how hard he thought they`d fight as well as the qualities he believes they possess.

He praised his team after the match after a great win under difficult circumstances ‘Today’s weather made the game really difficult. You never knew which way the wind was blowing, however it was the same for Dunfermline. This game had the potential to cost us points as they are fighting for their lives but we ground out a result and got the three points we wanted. These are the games you have to win if you want to be in Europe.

I thought we applied ourselves well today and stuck to our task which was difficult given the weather conditions. I thought we could have been 3-0 up at half time but we missed some chances and sometimes that can come back to haunt you but Mackie settled us down when he got his goal. He took it well from a difficult angle.

I thought we started the second half a bit sloppily but we got the early goal though Nicholson’s penalty. The quality of the third, in weather like this, says a lot about our players. It was a great finish from Stevie. I was just about to take him off and then he scored.’

Dunfermline manager Stephen Kenny was honest and dignified in defeat as he saw his team go down but is still eight points adrift at the bottom and must be preparing for life in the league below.

Kenny said: ‘The conditions weren’t great, but it was the same for both sides and I can’t hide behind that.

‘Mackie looked like he came from an offside position to score, although it was an excellent finish and Aberdeen were deservedly in front at half-time.

‘But in the second half I don’t think Dorus de Vries had a save of any note to make and for the penalty, while the ball definitely hit Stephen Simmons’ arm, whether you can give a penalty for that I am not sure. It looked harsh.

‘Aberdeen’s third goal was great, though, and we can’t make excuses, because on the day they were better than us.’