SFL v Falkirk

FALKIRK 1 DUNFERMLINE 2 Date: 12/03/11

Fixture: Irn Bru SFL Division

Attendance: 5121 (1273 visitors), Kick Off: 3:00pm.

Referee: Eddie Smith

Early morning snow put this game in doubt but the Falkirk covers kept the weather out and the derby match went ahead while all those around about were postponed. The playing surface looked pretty good - - only one muddy patch on halfway - and large lumps of snow were scattered around the sidelines.

Dunfermline made changes from the starting eleven v Ross County in midweek; Kevin Rutkiewicz, David Graham and Liam Buchanan dropped out as Chris Higgins, Alex Burke and Steven McDougall came in. Falkirk started Ross Perry and Stewart Murdoch in place of Kieran Duffy and Ryan Flynn,

Falkirk did the early pressing attacking the goal in front of the travelling support. Marc Twaddle pushed up and found Mark Stewart on the left.  His cross picked out Carl Finnegan but his attempt was deflected behind for a third minute corner. Another followed immediately but Chris Smith was out to hold that one.

The Pars were fortunate to survive a ninth minute slip up by Alex Keddie on the right side of their box. The Falkirk strikers were just as taken aback and failed to cash in.  Falkirk were putting crosses into the box but were overhitting them and the rain began to pelt down making football even more difficult.

In 14 minutes McDougall won possession on half way and sent a great ball out to Joe Cardle on the left but he hung on to the ball too long and neither a shot nor a pass transpired.  Dunfermline`s first shot at goal came from Martin Hardie on the quarter hour.  Woods and McDougall gave the Pars fans encouragement as they tried to drive up the right but the Bairns retaliated with Mark Millar making ground before shooting from 20 yards out. He forced another corner on the left but his overstruck return ended any potential danger.

The Pars had another chance in 21 minutes when Burke picked out McCann on the left touchline and Kirk headed the cross over the crossbar. A Perry foul on Cardle in 26 minutes allowed him to send in a free kick and a deflected header forced Dunfermline`s first corner of the game. Cardle delivered the ball frrom the right into the six yard box, the initial effort from Chris Higgins was blocked on the line but Calum WOODS was at the near post to smash the Pars into the lead. A bit against the run of play, but who cared!

Higginbotham sent in a 36th minute corner for Falkirk but Twaddle`s header was easily taken by Smith. Dunfermline kept up the pressure however with Cardle running at the Falkirk defence.

Then in 44 minutes great perseverance from Woods kept the Pars up at the right corner flag.  He appeared to slip and was going to lose possession but he swept round while on the deck and pushed the ball forward. As the play stuck in the corner a fine Woods backheeler from the sideline picked out McDougall and his cross was met by an extremely sweet HARDIE volley that sent the ball past the helpless Olejnik.

Half Time: Falkirk 0 Dunfermline 2

Tam McManus and Jack Compton were the half time subs for Falkirk but it was Gary Mason who had the first opportunity of the second half after Hardie`s chip into the box was headed out to him on the edge of the box but his defender dived in to stop the shot.  McDougall was getting in crosses from the right but it was Cardle`s 51st minute delivery that had the Falkirk keeper out sharpish to thwart Kirk.

At the other end Smith held a Compton cross to the near post as the tempo of the game continued to warm. In the thirteenth minute of the second half Compton swept in a ball from the right and Woods met in perfectly to head clear.  Unfortunately referee Eddie Smith saw something else; he awarded a soft looking penalty and booked Woods. It was Mark MILLER who smashed the spot kick past Smith to reduce the lead.

Although Cardle was challenged at the other end amongst claims for a penalty, Falkirk had their tails up and looked for an equaliser.  Ryan Thomson replaced Martin Hardie in 63 before Stewart tested Smith with a low shot from an angle. The Fifers took the sting out of Falkirk`s bite though with McDougall in particular running himself into the ground with his efforts.

Burton O`Brien fed Stewart a through ball and Compton`s cross forced Keddie to head behind for a corner but Chris Smith was well out to clear. Fresh legs were then introduced by Jim McIntyre as David Graham and Graham Bayne (as a trialist) for Alex Burke and Steven McDougall. Stewart was yellow carded for his tackle on Cardle but Joe overhit the 76th minute free kick and the ball went straight to Olejnik.

A Moutinho shot was deflected behind for a corner on the left. The 80th minute corner was not held by Smith and he appeared to be injured as he fell and the referee stopped the game.  After lengthy treatment during which a stretcher was called the big keeper was able to continue. Then six minutes from time David Graham sent over a beauty of a cross from the right but Kirk turned the chance over the bar.

There were Springer style chants of "Gerry, Gerry" after Assistant Gerry McCabe got a talking too for his keepy uppies in impeding McManus` attempts to retrieve the ball from the away dugout.  Graham Bayne was chopped down by McLean but when Graham crossed it was too strong for Cardle to turn back.

Falkirk produced a rousing final push, McCann was booked and McManus headed the ball against the post in 91 minutes. As the game went into its third added minute Woods stopped Stewart`s progress but conceded another corner that thankfully Falkirk headed over the bar. Next minute another corner was eventually greeted by loud cheers from the Pars end as Smith came out to hold.

After five minutes of added time the final whistle heralded a fine Pars victory.  The already jubilant Pars fans erupted again when the 2-0 score line from Starks Park was announced and the Rovers had lost.  With ten league matches remaining Dunfermline lie second, two points behind the leaders from Kirkcaldy.  Quite a transformation from Tuesday night, feelings after that night had gone through the mincing machine and out the other end came renewed hope and great expectations.

FALKIRK; Robert Olejnik, Ross Perry, Brian McLean, Marc Twaddle, Tam Scobbie; Burton O`Brien (c), Mark Miller, Stewart Murdoch (Jack Compton HT), Mark Stewart, Kallum Higginbotham (Pedro Moutinho 75); Carl Finnegan (Tam McManus HT).
SUBS NOT USED: Murray Wallace, Jamie Barclay (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Miller (52), Stewart (76)

DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith; Calum Woods, Chris Higgins, Alex Keddie, Austin McCann (c); Alex Burke (Trialist 76), Steven McDougall (David Graham 76), Martin Hardie (Ryan Thomson 63), Gary Mason, Joe Cardle; Andy Kirk,
SUBS NOT USED:  Liam Buchanan, Greg Paterson (GK).
SCORER: Woods (28), Hardie (44)
YELLOW CARD: Woods (58), McCann (89)

WEATHER: Overcast 2ยบC

NEXT MATCH: (away) SFL First Division v Stirling Albion
Tuesday 19th March 2011, kick off 7.30pm

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