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FOOTBALL: DEJA POOH Five meetings in a season proves Scotland's set-up is a real stinker; DUNFERMLINE..1 HIBERNIAN........1.

Byline: Hugh Keevins

DUNFERMLINE..1 HIBERNIAN........1 FAMILIARITY breeds contempt - and Scottish Cup replays.

The four previous meetings between Dunfermline and Hibs this season created a psychological barrier that neither could hurdle when it came to inventing a fresh idea to find a winner.

Dunfermline's new signing from Arsenal, David Grondin, comes from France, the country which gave us an expression to sum up perfectly the problem witnessed at East End Park. Deja vu.

Grondin endured the culture shock of leaving the glitz of Highbury for the more earthy delights of Dunfermline.

But the amiable Frenchman has no need of the bright lights, having chosen to settle in the town rather than join the colony of foreign players who have taken the tourist route to Edinburgh.

If everything is new and fresh to Grondin, the same could not be said for Hibs' Ian Murray. He scored the game's opening goal, only to see his first-half strike cancelled out by a cleverly side-footed volley from Barry Nicholson after the interval.

But it wasn't disappointment that made Murray frustrated by the sight of two teams cancelling each other out. It was the sheer boredom caused by meeting the same club the previous weekend in the league, and having to prepare to face them again a week on Wednesday to contest a place in the quarter-finals.

He said: "Playing each other for a fifth time in the same season is ridiculous.

"It's monotonous but the standard of play in Scotland is not as bad as some people would have you believe. That's why I'm delighted to see Celtic doing so well in the UEFA Cup - it makes a positive statement about the Premier League."

That announcement of support for Celtic at least will guarantee Murray a sympathetic welcome to Parkhead on Sunday for the game that will prepare Hibs for the cup tie with Dunfermline which must be played to a finish on the night.

The pressure will be on Bobby Williamson to deliver a result at Easter Road and he portrayed the tension of the occasion by delivering a classic example of manager's peak when describing Dunfermline's equaliser.

He said: "You must acknowledge a quality goal. It let Dunfermline back into the game, albeit they were never out of it."

There would definitely have been something lost in the translation if anyone had tried to explain to Grondin what the rival manager had said.

But Grondin has an untroubled air about him which converts into a composed approach on the field. What is a young man who grew up supporting St Etienne and idolising Lubo Moravcik during his time there doing in Fife on a bitterly cold Saturday night?

Particularly when he could be wallowing in the Champions League splendour of life with the Gunners.

The answer is that Grondin would have been no nearer to Arsenal's tie against Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday than the rest of us with access to a television.

He said: "Arsenal are a world-class club but I am a young man and I want to play on a regular basis. That is why I will be at Dunfermline until the end of next season.

"I spoke to Arsene Wenger and he agreed I was doing the right thing by coming to Scotland.

"There are no problems with the language, even if the Scottish accent is much different from the English version. I can understand my instructions so long as the manager speaks slowly."

Jimmy Calderwood speaks 20 to the dozen no matter what is going on. Only the annoyance of a fifth meeting with Hibs left him in a state approaching speechlessness.

He said: "I'll leave the problem of over-familiarity to the game's politicians. I've got enough trouble trying to be a football manager."

But Calderwood was being unnecessarily hard on himself. Dunfermline are one of the more entertaining teams to watch because they subscribe to the theory that never providing a dull moment is a good idea.

When Nicholson scored it was the result of a quick exchange involving Grondin and Stevie Crawford.

The goal they lost after Andrius Skerla and Gus MacPherson had failed to cut out a cross was due to defensive error.

But that didn't stop Calderwood reducing his defensive numbers and replacing MacPherson with Noel Hunt to chase a winner when the game was deep into the time when a mistake could have been fatal.

The manager said: "We're unbeaten in four games against Hibs this season and we showed character by coming back from a goal down.

"I was disappointed in midweek and let it show. But the players showed their determination after giving away a sloppy goal.

Williamson added: "A draw was a fair result on the balance of play."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 24, 2003
Words:791
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