SFL v Falkirk
FALKIRK 0 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 07/08/10
Fixture: Irn Bru SFL Division
Attendance: 6947, Kick Off: 3.00pm.
Referee: Calum Murray
The sun was struggling to come through to brighten up even further the first league meeting between these sides since May 2007. Both clubs fans were out in force and the stadium built up for the big kick off. 5242 turned out the last time Falkirk played a home match against Dunfermline in the First Division but the opening fixture of this season`s First Division was always likely to better that. Back then on 25th March 2000 Jimmy Calderwood`s team had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Brockville. Now it`s the Falkirk Stadium where the Pars have only won once - Hogmanay 2005.
Dunfermline were without the services of suspended duo Alex Keddie and Steven Bell. While Falkirk were missing Marc Twaddle for the same reason. Chris Higgins came in to replace Keddie. Willie Gibson and David Graham were on the bench. Falkirk were unchanged from the eleven that drew with Bolton the previous weekend.
Pre match "Two Tribes go to War" drowned out the already noisy supporters and when the teams emerged to `We will Rock You` it was to a great welcome. The Bairns kicked off and within the first 25 seconds both goalkeepers had made their first touches. Jack Compton executed the first shot of the game in four minutes but he was well high and wide of target.
Two minutes later Higgins then cut out a great cross from Tam Scobbie to give Falkirk the first corner of the afternoon but Nick Phinn blocked that and then won a goal kick. Chris Smith held a Higginbotham outswinger from the right while at the other end an early Paul Willis cross was cut out by the home defence.
In 11 minutes Willis pushed up the right and fed Woods running up his outside. His cross carried to Cardle and his return was knocked towards the left post by Pat Clarke where the defence squeezed out Andy Kirk`s challenge in the closest thing that far.
Mark Millar`s shot from 28 yards was palmed over his bar by Smith and Scobbie headed Compton`s corner from the left over the crossbar. Two Pars corners in quick succession were successfully defended with Kirk sending the final effort over the bar.
Incessant Dunfermline pressure eventually produced the first goal - Dunfermline`s first against the Bairns in 597 competitive minutes. Cardle was the provider with a fine cross in from the left and Pat CLARKE`s glancing header was met with stoney silence in front of the Falkirk fans in the south stand. In contrast the DAFC fans were ecstatic and Willis almost made Pars goals against Falkirk look like buses, but he blasted his good chance for a second over the bar.
The Fifers were playing the better football and their passing was a joy to watch. The challenges were typical of derby games and Gary Mason didn`t flinch as he stopped Khalis` sortie forward. Kirk hammered a 27th minute chance wide to the left of Bobby Olejnik but the 23 year old stopper was given a bigger task after Cardle was upended by Jason Marr on the far left of the penalty box. Penalty Dunfermline! Andy Kirk stepped up and struck the ball low to the Austrian keeper`s right but the spot kick was held.
David Graham replaced Paul Willis on the half hour with the 18 year old limping off as a result of a dead leg. The serious stuff was interrupted by the Falkirk Stadium announcer asking Paul Hume to go to reception since he had locked his wife out the house! Dunfermline were surprisingly given a corner kick in 38 minutes after the ball appeared to belt off Joe Cardle. His corner was too low to cause difficulties but then he won a free kick on the left. When `Super Joe` as he was being acclaimed by the travelling support, sent the ball into the box the keeper fisted the ball but Higgins was able to get a powerful drive in as the ball bounced about the Falkirk box only for it eventually to be blocked.
A Falkirk free kick 30 yards out was driven into the Pars wall in the penultimate minute of the half and Brian McLean thumped the rebound wide right. In the final opportunity Mark Stewart ran through on the left side of the box but fired his shot well over the bar. It had been a fantastic first 45, great entertainment and even better because the Pars were ahead at the break.
Half Time: Falkirk 0 Dunfermline 1
Steven Pressley sent on two subs for the restart. Carl Finnigan and Kieran Duffie replacing Jack Compton and the already booked, Jason Marr. Duthie assumed the role of protecting his defence from the threat of Joe Cardle. The home side pushed up in reaction to their half time team talk but it was Pars Graham who had the first shot of the second half after four minutes but unfortunately he hit the ball well over the top as he advanced in from the right.
Kallum Higginbotham who had caused the biggest threat in the first half continued to pester the Pars defence and he won a corner for his 51st minute shot. At the other end Graham did really well to cut back on the right byeline and Nick Phinn had a free shot at goal from eight yards. His shot went straight to Olejnik when any other direction on his shot would surely have made it 2-0.
From a corner at one end to a corner at the other this was exciting stuff and thankfully Austin McCann made the emphatic clearance. Next Graham latched on to a Mason lay off and rattled the crossbar with his 57th minute effort. A Cardle free kick from the right was then sent wide by Higgins.
Next another `Super Joe` won free kick in 63 minutes was cut back by the former Airdrie man for Graham,almost wrong footing the referee, but Davie took a touch before hitting in his left footed shot and the defence closed him out. As the game entered its final quarter the red booted Cardle was withdrawn as Willie Gibson and Steven McDougall came on. Andy Kirk was the other who headed for the bench.
Both teams had committed their subs and Falkirk fans were concerned as Higginbotham required treatment in 70th minute. He was OK to continue but the Pars continued to have the better chances. Gibson sent the ball deep right for McDougall and his cross was just missed by Clarke as it invited him to finish from ten yards.
The Pars survived a 74th minute free kick where whatever it was the Bairns tried, it didn`t work and then Graham again twisted and turned his way in from the right to execute another off target attempt. McDougall was an option for a lay off but the former Hamilton striker took the responsibility himself. Smith was made to save a Finnigan header in 77 as Falkirk began to have slightly more territorially.
Dunfermline continued to have chances to seal the result and McDougall was desperately unlucky in 83 minutes. He took on Duffie and Scobbie as he stormed into the left side of the box but Olejnik pulled off a great save. His counterpart pushed a McLean header over the bar at the other end and then Ryan Flynn sent the header from the corner wide right.
McDougall picked a break off Clarke to centre and yet another chance for number two wasn`t taken. Falkirk almost made the Pars pay for all these missed chances. In 88 minutes McLean pumped a ball into the box and Deuchar had a magnificent chance at the far post but somehow Smith kept the ball out and only a corner was lost. Falkirk were to finish with ten men after Mark Millar went over the top on his challenge on Gibson.
The Pars fans were singing louder the longer this went on, then there was whistling then more singing but the scoreline was not to change and Dunfermline recorded their first opening day of the league victory since beating Motherwell 5-2 in 2001-02.
FALKIRK; Robert Olejnik, Jason Marr (Kieran Duffie HT), Brian McLean, Mehdi Khalis (Kenny Deuchar 61), Tam Scobbie, Jack Compton (Carl Finnigan HT), Burton O`Brien (c), Ryan Flynn, Mark Millar, Mark Stewart, Kallum Higginbotham.
SUBS NOT USED: John Bloom, Jamie Barclay (GK),
YELLOW CARD: Marr (28), Finnigan (81)
RED CARD: Millar (93)
DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith, Calum Woods, Andy Dowie, Chris Higgins, Austin McCann (c); Paul Willis (David Graham 30), Gary Mason, Nick Phinn, Joe Cardle (Willie Gibson 66); Pat Clarke, Andy Kirk (Steven McDougall 66),
SUBS NOT USED: Neil McGregor, Kyle Allison (GK)
SCORER: Clarke (17)
YELLOW CARD: Mason (81), Phinn (84), Clarke (93)
WEATHER: Fine 18C
ATTENDANCE: 6947 (1863 Pars fans)
NEXT MATCH: (home) Alba Challenge Cup v Queen of the South
Tuesday 10th August 2010. kick off 7.45pm
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