SFL First Division: FALKIRK 1 DUNFERMLINE 3: 20/11/99
The match provided yet another opportunity for caretaker manager Jimmy Nicholl to demonstrate his talents despite the fact that that “good friend” of the club, BBC Sportsound’s Chic Young, exclusively revealing at 1.30pm that there were now only two people still in the running for the manager’s post and they were Bobby Gould and Mike Walker. Lord knows how anyone at East End would give Chic any information after last week’s damning interview with the Chairman so we might find like a few of Chic’s previous exclusives that he was being wound up!
Pars fans enjoyed their return to Brockville leaving hoarse with singing and happy with three points. “Sit down if you hate Falkirk” was the best crack from the terracing of 1000 + travelling supporters who took badly to the dingy surroundings. If ever there was evidence that Falkirk will not win promotion it is not the players but the ramshackle that they call home.
As soon as the winter evening darkened the clear sky the Estonia standard floodlights deepened Falkirk’s gloom and explained why the Pars were playing in their luminous shirts.
With Stewart Petrie returning after a two match suspension Andy Smith found himself on the subs bench and the rest of the team was a repeat of those who defeated Livingston last Sunday.
Opposition was unrecognisable during the first few minutes of the match which was played in true Tallinn style with Dunfermline totally in charge. Stevie Crawford took the ball wide down the left and crossed a perfect ball for Owen COYLE to curl into the goal beyond a slow reacting Hogarth.
David Moss required treatment but Pip’s magic sponge could not prevent his retirement only 5 minutes into the match. Steve Hampshire came on and covered alot of ground throughout the match.
After 13 minutes Stewart Petrie was axed on the edge of the penalty box and Justin Skinner’s free kick flashed across the six yard box with no contact. Next Owen Coyle had a free kick from the right saved by Hogarth and almost immediately Stevie Crawford shot one in from the right to be headed clear.
Falkirk did start to come forward midway through the half. First Andy Tod had a suspiciously-like handled clearance within his own penalty box. A conceded free kick gave bother and then Scott Crabbe crossed in from the right but Westie cut out the low ball.
Scott Thomson had a good shot in the 29th minute and although the lead did not look like increasing there was little threat on the Pars goal.
The second half started with Falkirk fired up for revenge. They encamped around the Dunfermline penalty box with the ball flying from one side to the other. It was one of those spells where you have to say that there was a goal coming and it duly turned up.
A free kick on the left was floated in perfectly for David Nicholls and Falkirk were back in the game with just 49 minutes gone.
It took the Pars seven minutes to restore the lead. A cross from Stewart Petrie was knocked goalwards by Coyle and as it came off a Falkirk defender there was Stevie CRAWFORD to score from 8 yards. He looked suspiciously offside but had been played onside by the Falkirk defender who tackled Petrie.
In an attack down the right Scott Thomson found himself at the corner flag and as he attempted to round the challenger a free kick was conceded. He took the kick himself, Andy Tod headed goalwards and as the ball appeared to be destined to fall beyond Hogarth’s left hand post Stevie CRAWFORD arrived to claim his second and Dunfermline’s third.
There was no way back for the Bairns no matter how hard they tried. The Pars defended well and threatened on the counter attack.
A better performance from the Pars and a great result away from home. Stevie Crawford was class in an otherwise ordinary match. Chris McGroarty continues to impress and it could be that the sweeper role suits Justin Skinner and his central defenders. Scope arises for Thomson and McGroarty to overlap and the consensus as the fans waited patiently to leave the ground through the small exit gates, was that things are showing a progressive trend.
Victories over Falkirk and Livvy and a draw with Raith - all the teams in close contention - leaves Dunfermline in second spot with the next four matches against the teams currently lying 10th to 6th. St Mirren sit with a comfortable lead but there are many more battles to fight before 6th May.
DUNFERMLINE: (5-2-3) Westwater; Thomson, Tod, Skinner, Reid, McGroarty, Moss (Hampshire 9), Dolan; Crawford, Coyle, Petrie.
Sub not used; Smith, Potter
Scorers: Coyle (2), Crawford (56, 69).
Yellow Cards: Reid (58)
Referee: KR Bissett
League Position 2nd (8 points behind St Mirren)
Strip: Away yellow
Next match v Clydebank (home) Bells Scottish First Division Saturday 27th November 1999
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