Pars Fall At The Final Hurdle
Updated Friday, 27th August 2004
Dunfermline could not hold out those final minutes and lost the tie against Hafnarfjordur thanks to a late goal.
As this was the first European game at 'home' for 34 years it was no surprise that the kick-off was delayed by five minutes to allow the home fans time to take their seats. The game was played at McDairmid Park as Hafnarfjordur did not want to play on the artificial pitch at East End Park. Dunfermline started well with Craig Brewster seeing a shot deflected wide and then Andrius Skerla sent a free header over when he should have done better. Davie Hay's side had plenty of attempts at goal in the first half but most of them were wayward and Dadi Larusson was rarely troubled in the Hafnarfjordur goal.
The slick surface did not help Dunfermline string their passes together but the Icelandic side also suffered with Derek Stillie not having a direct shot to deal with in the first half. Dunfermline stepped up a gear before half-time. A Dempsey shot was just a foot too high from outside the penalty area. The lively Noel Hunt - who was causing problems with his direct running - had a gilt-edged chance to give Dunfermline the lead in the 34th minute. Dempsey picked him out with a fine cross but his close-range shot was blocked by Larusson. Three minutes later, Derek Young headed over underpressure after Brewster had knocked the ball in to the midfield player.
Brewster was proving an influential figure and he forced a fine save from Larusson with a header early in the second half. The goalkeeper did well again in the 52nd minute to clutch a deflected shot from Darren Young after more good work from Brewster. But Dunfermline had a major let-off four minutes later. Emil Hallfredsson beat Stillie with a stunning left-foot shot from 30 yards which struck the underside of the crossbar before bouncing out. Baldur Bett then tested Stillie with a shot from distance which the goalkeeper managed to touch past his post. The Icelandic team looked increasingly threatening and Hallfredsson whipped another shot inches wide. Bett also had a great chance to snatch the lead when he chipped the ball over Stillie but his effort was just too high.
But it was Dunfermline who grabbed the goal in the 72nd minute when Larusson came off second best in a challenge with Brewster and Dempsey thrashed in the loose ball with his right foot. But, with eight minutes left, Bjornsson bundled home the equaliser after some untidy Dunfermline defending and then Neilsen had the final say from a Hallfredsson corner.
Dunfermline: Stillie, Shields, Scott Wilson, Skerla, Scott Thomson (Byrne 85), Derek Young (Donnelly 85), Darren Young, Mason (Tod 90), Dempsey, Hunt, Brewster
Subs Not Used: Langfield, Lyle, Labonte, Mehmet
Goals: Dempsey 72
FH Hafnarfjordur: Larusson, Saevarsson, Sverrir Gardarsson, Nielsen, Bjarnason, Stefansson (Armann Smari Bjornsson 76), Jonas Grani Gardarsson (Asgeirsson 67), Bett, Borgvardt, Gudjonsson (Vitarsson 80), Hallfredsson
Subs Not Used: Halldorsson, Leifsson, Karkov, Olafsson
Goals: Armann Smari Bjornsson 83, Nielsen 90
Referee: Attila Hanacsek (Hungary)