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Last Updated: Friday, 13 April 2007, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Hibernian 0-0 Dunfermline
By David Sharp

Dunfermline defender Souleymane Bamba (left) clears from Abdessalam Benjelloun
Pars defender Bamba was outstanding in keeping Hibs at bay
Hibernian and Dunfermline will have to come back to Hampden again after an absorbing Scottish Cup semi-final ended in stalemate.

Hibs started the tie strongly and had the best of the chances early on.

But their finishing let them down and it was Dunfermline who came closest to opening the scoring when Jamie McCunnie's shot smashed off the post.

Hibs had the best of the second half and Steven Fletcher squandered a great opportunity to put them into the final.

With Hampden bathed in bright sunshine, the first chance fell to Hibs when David Murphy's corner was headed narrowly wide by Chris Hogg.

Steven Whittaker then stroked a low ball into the box, which scythed through the Dunfermline defence, but Steven Fletcher just failed to connect.

McCunnie went agonisingly close to opening the scoring for Dunfermline when he latched on to Jim McIntyre's neat head-flick in the Hibs box.

His shot beat keeper Andrew McNeil but came back off the right-hand post and the Hibs keeper pulled off a stunning reflex save as Jim O'Brien pounced on the rebound.

Hibs counter-attacked at speed and only the quick reflexes of goalkeeper Dorus de Vries prevented an angled drive from Scott Brown going in.

As Hibs fans became restless, Dunfermline grew in confidence.

Hibs midfielder Scott Brown (right) battles for possession with Adam Hammill
Scott Brown was Hib's most dangerous player

McNeil was called into action again to tip a dipping 20-yard volley from Phil McGuire over the crossbar.

The Fifers were pushing forward in numbers and there was a surprising fluency to their overall play for a team that's been languishing at the bottom of the Scottish Premier League for most of the season.

The game continued to ebb and flow from one end to the other but neither side could make the breakthrough.

As half-time approached Greg Shields dispossessed Steven Fletcher in the Hibs half and sprayed the ball wide to Adam Hammil.

He accelerated past Whittaker down the left and whipped a dangerous cross into the box but McNeil dived bravely at McIntyre's feet to prevent a goal.

McNeil failed to appear for the second half after suffering concussion in the clash and was replaced by Simon Brown.

It was Hibs who should have been ahead shortly after the restart.

Scott Brown took the ball to the by-line before cutting back to Fletcher in the Dunfermline six-yard box.

With the goal at his mercy, Fletcher hesitated for a second, took a clumsy swing at the ball and saw his shot cannon off a group of black jerseys.

Brown was impressing with his surging runs as Hibs forced Dunfermline back deep into their own half.

But the Pars then provided a timely reminder that they were far from out of the tie.

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Gary Mason spurned a glorious opportunity when Hamill found him unmarked in the box but he lacked composure and shot high over the bar.

But Hibs continued to dominate and Abdessalam Benjelloun's downward half-volley bounced high towards the Dunfermline goal, with the outstanding Souleymane Bamba heading the ball off the line.

However, the game petered out as the baking heat took it's toll and the teams will have to do it all again at Hampden on 24 April.


Hibernian: McNeil (Simon Brown 45), Whittaker, Jones, Hogg, Murphy, Sproule, Beuzelin, Fletcher, Stevenson, Scott Brown, Benjelloun (Gray 89).

Subs Not Used: Zemmama, McCann, Chisholm.

Booked: Whittaker.

Dunfermline: De Vries, Shields, Wilson, McGuire (Ross 45), McCunnie, Muirhead, Hammill (Owen Morrison 80), Bamba, Mason, O'Brien, McIntyre (Burchill 90).

Subs Not Used: McKenzie, Daquin.

Booked: O'Brien, Wilson.

Att: 25,336

Ref: C Thomson (Scotland).

SEE ALSO
Collins bemoans slack finishing
12 Apr 07 |  Hibernian
We had better chances, says Kenny
15 Apr 07 |  Scottish Cups
Sunday's photos
15 Apr 07 |  Scotland
Scottish Cup player ratings
15 Apr 07 |  Scottish Cups


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