SPFL League One: DUNFERMLINE 3 BRECHIN CITY 1: 26/03/16
A hattrick from Faissal El Bakhtaoui coupled with a Cowdenbeath win at Peterhead combined to ensure the League One title was won with this victory.
For the visit of ninth place Brechin City Allan Johnston was forced to make a change to his starting eleven since Joe Cardle was out through suspension. David Hopkirk was the player to come in off the bench.
Easter Saturday meant that there was a large number of distant fans present for what could transpire to be a title clincher. Never keen to rely on results elsewhere, there was a possibility that if the Pars won and neighbours Cowdenbeath won at Peterhead then the League One title would be won.
Standing between this scenario was an in form Brechin City who arrived at East End Park on the back of four straight wins. Their manager Darren Dods made one enforced change Jamie Robson coming in for Lewis Spence since the on loan Par was excluded from playing against his own club.
The teams were welcomed on to the pitch amidst much noise and they changed ends before Ryan Wallace and Faissal El Bakhtaoui got the match underway with the . Within 45 seconds Faiss had a good effort charged down and the opening minutes were full of good positive stuff from the home eleven.
Brechin suffered an early set back when player manager Darren Dods was forced into substituting himself after just five minutes, Euan Smith coming on in his place. Then as the eight minute started EL BAKHTAOUI slid in to meet a Wallace cross from the right. 1-0
The visitors attempt to get right back in the game within two minutes was thwarted by Jason Talbot. There were doubt over whether Robert Thomson was onside as he collected the ball on the left and his subsequent cross was flicked on by Craig Molloy for Jamie Robson to get a crack at goal but the sting was taken out of the shot by the Dunfermline left back and Sean Murdoch gathered.
In the eleventh minute Hopkirk had two good chances, Graeme Smith had a fine save with his left foot and then the Pars player headed the returned ball over the crossbar. At the other end Andy Jackson had an opportunity but pulled his shot wide right from 15 yards out.
A smart move from Wallace out to Paton on the right nearly paid off but Ryan couldn't quite get the necessary touch on the cross. Continued pressure earned the Pars a 20th minute corner and even although the Brechin defence cleared a foul on El Bakhtaoui handed Wallace an opportunity from a free kick 25 yards out. Unfortunately that went wide and high.
Hopkirk's cross in 22 minutes forced another corner on the left and Ben Richards-Everton found himself shielding the ball out right before crossing a brilliant ball that just evaded Andy Geggan.
The second goal of the game was only two more minutes away when a long diagonal pass from Talbot picked out EL BAKHTAOUI who finished in style for 2-0
Much celebration was soon tempered as former Pars striker Robert THOMSON got one back for the visitors. A simple through ball from Craig Molloy that maybe had the defence looking for an offside decision. 2-1
Murdoch fisted away a Jackson shot three minutes later as the Angus side looked to strike again. That was followed up by a Brad McKay clearance from a Jackson cut back. At this stage some in the crowd reacted to news of a Greig Spence goal for Cowdenbeath but on the park focus was clearly on the job in hand.
Play continued towards the Pars goal however with Murdoch having to fist away a powerful Jackson effort from 25 yards out and then the keeper held a tame attempt from Brechin's on loan player Liam Watt.
When physio Kenny Murray came on to administer treatment to Falkingham, the Pars made their first substitution with Michael Moffat replacing David Hopkirk. Watt tried a snapshot that he sent wide and a Jamie Robson run took him to the byeline where he cut back but Reid from the deck scrambled the ball away.
In added time Talbot was brought down by Robson on the left edge of the visitors box and the physio was call upon once more. Paton's delivery was then headed clear before the referee blew for half time. The stats showed 56% possession for Dunfermline but Brechin had more shots.
Half time: Dunfermline 2 Brechin City 1
Dunfermline had two great changes in the sixth minute of the second half. Reid was played in on the right side and his pass for Wallace six yards out was crashed against the crossbar and then El Bakhtaoui on the rebound hit the ball at the keeper from eight yards out.
Keeper Graeme Smith was yellow carded for taking far too long to try and place the ball for a goal kick. Richards-Everton was to collect a yellow one minute later and from the ensuing free kick Brechin dispatched the ball into the McCathie Stand.
In 56 minutes Jackson had the ball in the Pars net but referee Kirkland blew up for a foul on Geggan amidst one almighty goalmouth stramash. At the other end a decision did go with Brechin as Moffat appeared to be tripped by last man Gary Fusco.
Richards-Everton conceded a free kick 22 yards out after McKay had failed to cut out a through ball. Willie Dyer smashed the free kick on target but a deflection off the Pars wall took the ball over rather fortunately for a corner that Brechin were to waste.
Moffat fed an inviting ball through to El Bakhtaoui but the Pars top goalscorer could not control. Faiss kept play in the Brechin half by charging down a Fusco clearance and when the visitors did take the ball up the park Euan Smith sent a silly ball into the McCathie.
In 75 minutes Richards-Everton cut out a Watt cross but Dunfermline were getting drawn deeper. James Dale sent a wild shot from 30 yards wide and high. The Pars response were balls to Moffat from El Bakhtaoui and from Paton but it was a Wallace cross from the left that caused the next danger. Paul McLean and his keeper combined to clear but the keeper required treatment for his heroics.
Smith skied a clearance in 83 minutes setting up Paton for a crack at goal but the keeper redeemed himself with a save albeit at the second take.
An unconvincing Paton corner from the right allowed Brechin to break and Watt sent in a shot from distance that just bounced outside the left goalpost.
Paul Joseph Crossan had replaced Ryan Wallace with only minutes to go and it was his strong run to catch a Paton pass that allowed him to cut back for EL BAKHTAOUI to finish with aplomb. 3-1
A fantastic way for Faissal El Bakhtaoui to register his first hattrick and there can hardly ever have been such a wonderful goal to clinch a league title. Referee Steven Kirkland blew after the restart and there was an anxious minute before confirmation from Balmoor Stadium - Peterhead 0 Cowdenbeath 1.
Ladbrokes League One champions 2015-2016.
Congratulations to all the management and players. Job done!
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch; Craig Reid, Brad McKay, Ben Richards-Everton, Jason Talbot; Michael Paton, Andy Geggan (c), Josh Falkingham, David Hopkirk (Michael Moffat 40); Ryan Wallace (Paul Joseph Crossan 89), Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
SUBS NOT USED: Rhys McCabe, Shaun Byrne, Lewis Martin, Shaun Rooney, David Hutton (GK).
SCORERS: El Bakhtaoui (8, 24, 91)
YELLOW CARD: Richards-Everton (55), Wallace (80)
BRECHIN CITY: Graeme Smith; Paul McLean, Darren Dods (Euan Smith 5), Gary Fusco, Willie Dyer; James Dale, Jamie Robson, Craig Molloy (Liam Coogans 77), Liam Watt, Andy Jackson, Robert Thomson.
SUBS NOT USED: Jonathan Tiffoney, Jamie Montgomery, Darren McCormack, Craig Johnston, Paddy O'Neil (GK)
SCORERS: Thomson (25)
YELLOW CARD: G Smith (54), Robson (80), Dyer (89)
REFEREE: Steven Kirkland
WEATHER: Dull, wet 11C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes League One (away) v Albion Rovers, Saturday 2nd April 2016, kick off 3.00pm