Dunfermline looked out of their depth in this SPL encounter for most of the game but a combination of sloppy finishing, last-ditch defending and Celtic’s still-unresolved problem from the penalty spot meant the game finished on a knife-edge.
Gary Hooper intercepted a cross-field pass from Dunfermline’s Paul Willis after 6 minutes, took a great first touch and fired a bullet shot into the bottom left corner of the goal to put Celtic ahead. After 19 minutes more slack play from Dunfermline allowed Celtic to break with fluency. Kris Commons, Anthony Stokes and Hooper combined to setup James Forrest to put Celtic in what looked like easy street.
Stokes almost finished from a tight angle after Forrest flashed the ball across the face of the goal, while Forrest failed to hit the target with a couple of shots from inside the box.
Commons, restored to the starting line-up, was clearly enjoying his free role, drifting from left to centre-midfield and twice found Anthony Stokes with outrageously precise 40-yard passes. Celtic’s effectiveness suffered when Commons, who must surely have been injured, failed to appear after half time.
Celtic, perhaps having things too easy, dropped off the pace without the prodding of Commons and, with Dunfermline offering no apparent threat, looked like getting away with a 4-4-2 formation, with two traditional wingers. Dunfermline had not read the script, however.
Andy Barrowman thundered a shot from the angle of the box into Fraser Forster’s bottom right corner with five minutes remaining – plus an eventual four minutes added time. Any match report should record that Dunfermline never got close to adding a second goal in the remaining nine minutes, but this was also a period when Celtic lost all composure. Fraser Forster was booked for timewasting and Adam Matthews will never take as long over three throw-ins all season. The final whistle was greeted with enormous relief by the home support.