Today we look back at a game from January 2008 between the Pars and our opponents this weekend, Morton. Player-manager Jim McIntyre named himself in the Dunfermline starting line-up. Morton's team included Jim McAlister and Chris Millar, both now back at the club for a second spell and likely to face us this weekend.
DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC 2, MORTON 0
SCOTTISH FIRST DIVISION
SATURDAY 26 JANUARY 2008
The season had begun with a newly-relegated Pars team installed as favourites to win the First Division and make a quick return to the Premier League. By early winter, the team were in the bottom half of the division, suffering a sequence of defeats that lead to the dismissal of manager Stephen Kenny in early December 2007. Jim McIntyre was initially appointed as caretaker manager but after 4 weeks his position was made permanent. Dunfermline went into this game having lost to St Johnstone the week before, ending a 7 game unbeaten start to McIntyre's time in charge.
A crowd of 3594 were at East End Park to see a match that started slowly, with the first goal attempt coming after 14 minutes when Kevin Harper's shot was saved by McGurn. Two minutes later, Stephen Glass crossed for Scott Thomson to head a chance just wide. Dunfermline were dominating as the first half progressed. Mark Burchill was the next Pars player to come close when his header from a Danny Murphy cross was held by McGurn. Murphy was a left back who played 13 games in a short Pars career on loan from Motherwell. A month after this game, his loan deal ended and he returned to his home country, Ireland, to play for Cork City.
The Pars continued to put pressure on the Morton defence with McIntyre and then Jim Hamilton both coming close top opening the scoring. Hamilton was playing in an unfamiliar left wing role but was able to support the attack when required.
The first half ended goalless with Dunfermline well ahead in possession and goal attempts.
The Pars' dominance continued after the break. In the 49th minute Burchill's goalbound shot was blocked by Morton defender Ryan Harding. Two minutes later, Dunfermline took a long overdue lead when Stephen Simmons volleyed home from 10 yards from a Murphy cross.
Simmons almost scored his and Dunfermline's second after 61 minutes but his shot was cleared off the line. In the 70th minute, a rare Morton attack almost lead to an equaliser when Jim McAlister charged down a Stephen Glass clearance and forced Pars keeper Paul Gallacher to react quickly to prevent the Morton player from shooting.
Dunfermline made it 2-0 with 6 minutes remaining with a well-worked goal. Substitute Stevie Crawford passed to fellow sub Nick Phinn, who found Burchill , whose pass to Glass saw the midfielder take a touch and then shoot home via the right post. The ball was clearly over the line when Morton tried to convince referee Eddie Smith that they had cleared it. The referee was not fooled and the goal stood, correctly.
The win was to be just one of 2 Pars victories between late January and the third week in March. The season ended strongly with just one defeat in the final 6 games. The team finished fifth, earning 38 points from McIntyre's 22 games as manager compared to the 13 points from 14 games under Kenny. The improvement in form is perhaps best illustrated by taking the average points gained under McIntyre (1.73) and when multiplied by the full 36 game season, would have seen the Pars finish third. Kenny's average points per game (0.93) would have ended in a ninth place finish and a relegation play-off.
Pars line-up v Morton (player in background image - Mark Burchill):