Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 2 Falkirk 0: 02/01/18 :
The Dunfermline side showed two enforced changes from the one that faced Brechin City last time out on the Saturday before Christmas. Sean Murdoch was out injured and Allan Johnston fielded his first January signing, former Queen of the South keeper Lee Robinson in goals. Captain Callum Morris was suspended so Jean Yves M`Voto came in at centre back and Nicky Clark wore the captain`s armband.
Injury to Myles Hippolyte meant Falkirk manager, Paul Hartley, could not name the same starting eleven that recorded his first victory in charge of Falkirk on Saturday. Out went Lewis Kidd, Paul Watson and in came Thomas Robson, Andrew Nelson and Sean Welsh.
The home side had two good chances on the opening three minutes. Firstly Clark got in an early shot tha just escaped wide right of the goal and then third minute M`Voto forced keeper Robbie Mutch to turn his header round the other post.
The game developed into the unusual heated derby with the ball being passed around at pace to avoid challenges but Reghan Tumilty was shown the first yellow card of the game in just the ninth minute for going on with a high boot.
A Paton corner from the right was headed wide right by Lee Ashcroft and on 15 minutes Clark`s shot from a Declan McManus lay off was blocked by a defender. One minute later CLARK had another chance from a similar position to the right of goal and this time his shot was fumbled by the Falkirk keeper as it made its way into the net. 1-0
Dunfermline pushed for a second and in 23 minutes Clark came close to doing that but his header from a Jason Talbot cross slipped wide right.
The large travelling support cheered loudly as their side forced a 27th minute corner but that was headed down by Clark and booted away by Ashcroft. Falkirk kept play in the Dunfermline half for a spell and there was a great tackle from Dean Shiels and a good clearance from Williamson. Jordan McGhee fired a 32nd minute shot low and wide from 30 yards.
McManus did well to rob a defender as he tried to usher it out and then was denied a penalty as he appeared to have the feet pulled away from him. It was Clark in 36 minutes who got the next chance after good work by Joe Cardle but the shot from 15 yards out cleared the bar.
Robinson had to make his first serious save in 48 minutes when Aaron Muirhead crashed a low shot to the left side of the Pars goal from 30 yards out. Fortunately the new keeper got down well to deny the equaliser.
Craig Sibbald wound himself up for a shot from the right side of the penalty box but miscues. Then Tumilty got round the back of the defence but his pass was well cut out. Thomas Nelson had a go in 43 minutes but his poorly connected effort went wide left.
The Bairns almost got the goal they were looking for in 45 minutes when Louis Longridge was play through by Taiwo but Robinson fingertipped it round the post for a corner on the right. When that was taken to the corner of the penalty box Tumilty met it but the on loan Ross County player sent his attempt over the bar.
Dunfermline edged the first half as the scoreline reflected, 52% possession and 8 shots to Falkirk`s four.
Half time: Dunfermline 1 Falkirk 0
The second half was just five minutes old when the Pars increased their lead. Cardle had just embarked on a run where he took on what seemed like the entire Falkirk defence before being closed out. But when Talbot sent a diagonal pass back into the Bairns box, Clark got a touch as the ball broke for MCMANUS to stick the ball in at the right post. 2-0
Play got even more heated, M`Voto and Longridge were given stern words from Willie Collum and Andrew Nelson was yellow carded for his challenge on McManus. Sibbald sent a free kick across the face of the Fifers goal before it was back to the other end. Falkirk came back with Tumilty again the threat, his shot from the edge of the box was tipped around the post by Robinson.
On the counter Cardle benefitted from the left back`s slip but Tumilty cleared the cross. Paul Hartley then made a double substitution in an effort to get back into the game. Rory Loy and Alex Harris replaced Peter Grant and Tom Taiwo in 64th minute.
Paton sent over a 69th minute corner but Clark just failed to get enough on his header to find the net. Next Robinson flew out to clutch a Tumilty cross away from a number of heads on the edge of the six yard box. The contest continued with neither side holding back, the home fans were on good form and enjoyed their taunting verses.
Cardle was caught offside, Williamson had a customary run, beat two men but shot at Mutch. Then in 77 minutes Cardle hit the post after Ashcroft on half way had picked out Clark who in turn sent the Pars fans favourite scurrying down the right to get in a well struck shot.
Robinson reacted fast to thwart a Welsh shot and then the keeper did well to hold a Sibbald free kick that has headed away by Clark only for McGhee to fire a low netbound shot. Loy was caught offside in the left side of the Pars box and as the minutes ran away on Falkirk, Kallum Higginbotham replaced Joe Cardle.
There was time however for Tumilty to hit the post and Andy Ryan to round the Falkirk keeper 30 yards out but then see Clark hit the pass narrowly wide left. Nonetheless the two goals were sufficient to secure the three points and keep the Pars in 4th place.
Lee Robinson was awarded the Man of the Match, a shut out and on this showing looked a good acquisition. So it was a good start to the New Year, a second home win over Falkirk, the first back to back wins since September and possibly of greater importance, growing confidence.
DUNFERMLINE: Lee Robinson: Ryan Williamson, Lee Ashcroft, Jean Yves M`Voto, Jason Talbot: Michael Paton, Nat Wedderburn, Dean Shiels, Joe Cardle (Kallum Higginbotham 84): Nicky Clark (c), Declan McManus (Andy Ryan 86)
SUBS NOT USED: Fraser Aird, Lewis Martin, Callum Smith, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Clark (16), McManus (51)
YELLOW CARD: Ashcroft (37), Cardle (61), Ryan (90+!)
FALKIRK: Robbie Mutch: Aaron Muirhead, Peter Grant (Alex Harris 64), Reghan Tumilty, Tom Taiwo (Rory Loy 64), Craig Sibbald, Jordan McGhee, Louis Longridge, Thomas Robson, Andrew Nelson, Sean Welsh.
SUBS NOT USED: Cameron Blues, Lewis Kidd, James Craigen, Paul Watson, Robbie Thomson (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Tumilty (9), Nelson (55)
REFEREE: Willie Collum
WEATHER: Rain 4C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (away) v Dumbarton Saturday 6th January 2018, 3.00pm kick off at the YOUR Radio 103FM Stadium.
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