Review of 2003 (1)

Last updated : 30 December 2003 By Firparkcorner

Sadly, our optimism was yet again misplaced. We took the lead but McFadden was harshly sent off and Burns equalised with a sensational free kick. Toastie scored from the spot to put the Jags ahead but we deserved to level and duly did when David Partridge headed home from close range. We left happy with a point but yet again we had to reflect on what might have been.

Faddy's penalty at Rugby Park
The cup draw, as usual, hadn’t been particularly kind but 2500 confident ‘Well fans travelled down to Kilmarnock. The game was poor but Killie were rank rotten and Faddy’s penalty was enough to give us a comfortable win. We returned to Rugby Park for our next league game with young Stevie Craig making his debut up front. Again the game was decided by a penalty but this time the hosts won after Frankie Doobs lost the plot and elbowed Dargo.

Our squad was strengthened by the short term signings of defender Tony Vaughan and striker Richard Offiong. Both were in the squad for the six pointer at Tannadice. United went one up but a Clarkson dive in the box resulted in Combe being sent off and allowed Adams to equalise from the spot. Adams and Leitch both missed what seemed like unmissable chances before a defensive disaster allowed Miller to score the winner. Things did appear to improve in the next few weeks with both Dunfermline and Hibs going down 2-1 at Fir Park. That these wins came with Faddy still suspended was to provide some hope for the rest of the season. We were now three points clear in eleventh and we had a game in hand.

The cup provided a pleasant break from the league struggle and Clyde were next up at Broadwood. They worked hard but offered no threat and we won more comfortably than the 2-0 margin suggests. Faddy got both goals, the second being a wonderful solo effort.


A 'Well attack at Tynecastle
hree wins in a row then and things were looking up. We were playing well at Tynecastle and when Lasley scored a sensational equaliser it seemed only one team would go on to win. McFadden then blasted over a glorious chance, Stamp scored the winner on a break against the run of play and that was that. In retrospect, it is easy to identify this match as the punch in the stomach which fatally wounded our season. This was the first game in a run which was to see us pick up one point out of thirty. We could easily have drawn at home to Aberdeen and Dundee but lost to the odd goal and these were sandwiched around convincing defeats at Ibrox and East End Park along with the cup game.

Our poor league form was not transferred to the cup thankfully and we were given the best tie possible in the quarter finals, a cracking day out to Stranraer. We made a very edgy start and were only leading at the break due to an own goal. The second half was a different story and we strolled to a 4-0 win. This match was memorable not only for the great ticket scramble – we took more than our allocation of 2800 – but the mini street party after the match in Girvan. Every supporters’ bus seemed to stop there for chips on the journey home and the players’ bus was given a rapturous reception as it passed through the town.

Claret and Amber Ribbons
The semi final against Rangers was an amazing game. One down within seconds, we fought back brilliantly and great goals from Craig and McFadden put us in the lead. Then came the ‘Smith must score’ moment ‘Well fans will remember for decades. Amoruso slipped out wide, Craig’s cross was perfect and Clarkson’s finish beat Klos. It was only when we were three feet in the air that we realised it had beaten the post as well.

Predictably, Rangers came out refreshed in the second half and our sloppy defence let in three goals. Adams got a last gasp consolation but there was no doubt we had blown another game we shouldn’t have lost.

Part two here.

Review of 2002(1) here.
Review of 2002(2) here.
Review of 2001 here.