DUNFERMLINE 1 - 1 MOTHERWELL
For many Pars fans, that threshold was passed many weeks ago following the disgraceful collapse to Icelandic part-timers FH in the UEFA Cup. With a vast majority of the Pars fans vocally calling for Davie Hay to go, after yet another capitulation - this time at home to Motherwell, it would appear many other Pars fans now feel the same!
With the Pars taking to the field with virtually the same line-up that started against Kilmarnock two weeks earlier - the fit-again duo of Scott Wilson and Barry Nicholson replacing Irishman Ritchie Byrne (injured) and Noel Hunt respectively - it would appear that Mr Hay doesn't see too much wrong with his team's performances this season.
In front of an apallingly low crowd, it was the visitors that started by far the brighter hitting the post in only the 3rd minute. Good play by McDonald allowed McBride to swing a cross into the Pars penalty area and - with the Pars defence all at sea - striker Ritchie Foran managed to place a right-footed shot past Derek Stillie, only for the ball the rebound back off the upright.
The Pars responded by taking the lead in the 9th minute after a defence splitting pass sent Darren Young racing through on goal. The midfielder saw his effort padded out by Marshall only for Craig BREWSTER to tap in the equaliser from two-yards out - the veteran's second goal of the season sending the home support into raptures.
The Pars had further chances to add to their lead soon after with Billy Mehmet going close twice. After picking up the loose ball in the middle of midfield, Mehmet took a touch before firing a fierce shot at the Motherwell goal - Marshall doing well to turn the ball away. The young striker came close once again only minutes later when an excellent Brewster flick-on sent Mehmet through on goal, only to see his shot sail just over the bar.
The Pars continued to unsettle the Motherwell defence with their impressive passing play - reminiscent of the Jimmy Calderwood era - with the visitor's defence looking shaky at the best of times. Shortly before half-time a good move involving Nicholson and Young sent Greg Shields racing down the right-wing, the defender squandering his cross at the last minute.
With the Pars taking the foot off the gas, Butcher's side started to impose themselves in the game more with the Pars defence looking decidedly shaky. However, with first-half proceedings coming to an end, the Pars went into the break with a fairly satisfying performance behind them. With impressive flowing passing movements and inventive play from the midfield - Darren Young in particular - the Pars players could go into the dressing room feeling satisfied after a good 45 minutes work.
Then...it all went horribly wrong.
Just what Davie Hay and his coaches said to his players in the half-time team-talk is unknown, just what kind of effect it had on the team, however, is perfectly clear. The Pars came out in the second-half with the obvious intention to defend their lead instead of going for, what would have been, a killer second. Whats more, they intended to do this by abandoning their passing game and adopting the - Davie Hay approved - long ball game.
However the Pars could have added a second only minutes into the second-half when a 25-yard right-footed screamer from Billy Mehmet was turned over, once again, by Marshall in the Motherwell goal. From then on, Motherwell took control with Ritchie Foran coming close with a deflected effort. With the visitors stamping their authority on the match, the Pars were limited to the odd sporadic attack - Brewster coming close with a right-footed volley from the edge of the box.
With the Pars defence and midfield continually struggling to involve the Pars front two in the game, Hay and his fellow stooges saw this as a sign to bring off a striker. Not the tiring Brewster, no no that would seem the obvious thing to do, instead the manager chose to replace the excellent Billy Mehmet with Noel Hunt in the 70th minute - a move which was met by a chorus of boos from the Pars faithful.
The move could - and should - have payed off two minutes later when Noel Hunt squandered a gilt-edged chance by headering wide - with the goal gaping - from six yards out. In a rare second-half period of pressure from the home side Greg Shields came agonisingly close minutes later when his lung-bursting run ended in his left-footed shot creeping only inches wide of Marshall's goal.
From then on it seemed like a case of when, not if, Motherwell would get the equaliser. With the Pars defence seemingly inviting the visiting attack to have a go, the inevitable happened with only two minutes remaining. With the Pars defenders backing off and backing off, Scott MCDONALD fired in a tremendous volley which flew over the helpless Stillie and into the back of the net. This provided the catalyst for a chorus of anti-Davie Hay chanting from a fair majority of the Pars fans, clearly upset at the shambles on display.
With the final whistle sparking yet more booing and unrest among the Pars support, it would seem as though a good many Pars fans are less than happy with the current situation!
What can you say? Football is a game of two halfs - a fact which was undoubtedly evident in this fixture, with a totally different Pars team taking to the field in the second-half. Although shaky at the back, the Pars looked very confident going forward in the first-half - a move that was swiftly remedied in the half-time team-talk.
The substitution of Billy Mehmet beggars belief! Mehmet was continually opening up play with his willingness to search out the easy pass and was the only Pars player unafraid to test Marshall from any distance, so Hay takes him off.
Hay's second substitution was just as baffling. After putting in an excellent display up-front in the reserves - scoring a hat-trick into the bargain - Donnelly was brought on, once again, as a right-winger replacing Barry Nicholson. Donnelly - without doubt a talented player - looked very uncomfortable on the right-wing, as he has done each time he is deployed there. Hay's own programme notes stated - "Simon has been played mostly wide right since he came here and has had little opportunity to play in the position we brought him in for." Brilliant. So the manager notices the problem but fails to act on it. Says it all really!
With Gary Dempsey turning in yet another poor performance on the left wing - a position clearly not suited to Gary's style of play - it may have seemed obvious to give new signing Thomas Butler - a natural left-winger - the chance to impress, possibly adding some width to a fairly narrow Pars formation. Yet again Hay and his coaches failed to identify this.
With poor performance after poor performance, every week seems to be a chance to moan, a chance to criticise. Believe me, it would be a hell of a lot more enjoyable to comment on a Pars win, yet we continue to see the Pars turning in inept performances spurred on by equally inept tactics from an inept management team - a managment team simply not up to the job!
With Leishman and Yorkston unlikely to give their pal the sack, it looks like it's going to be a long hard winter!
Man Of The Match - BILLY MEHMET - Another man of the match display from an excellent young player before being substituted in a baffling move by the Pars management team.
PARS - Stillie 6, Shields 5, Skerla 8, Wilson 6, Thomson 5, Nicholson 7, (Donnelly 84) 3, Darren Young 7, Mason 5, Dempsey 4, Mehmet 8, (Hunt 70) 4, Brewster 7.
SUBS NOT USED - Langfield, Butler, Tod, Labonte, Scullion.