SPFL Championship: DUNFERMLINE 1 FALKIRK 1: 26/12/16
Pars make three changes - Geggan, Herron and Cardle return. Myles Hippolyte (10) 0-1: Rhys McCabe (59 pen.) 1-1
With the other fixtures in the Championship having been played on Christmas Eve the Pars knew that a win over Falkirk would lift them from 9th place to 6th on the final match of the second diet of Championship fixtures.
Manager Allan Johnston made three changes from the side that started at Dumfries against Queen of the South. In came Andy Geggan, John Herron and Joe Cardle taking the places of Callum Fordyce, Nat Wedderburn and the suspended Kallum Higginbotham.
Falkirk in search of a win to take them into third place in the league made one change from the side that lost 2-1 at Dumbarton a week past Saturday: Scott Shepherd getting the nod ahead of Falkirk`s leading goalscorer this season, Lee Miller who he replaced for the last 30 minutes at Dumbarton. Before the match started however David McCracken pulled out with a hamstring injury meaning Canadian internationalist Luca Gasparetto started in the centre of defence. Paul Watson filled the vacant seat on the Bairns bench.
Prior to kick off there was a minutes applause in a show of appreciation for club director Margaret Ross who died suddenly on 16th December 2016. It was a very moving minute and Margaret would have loved the tribute that the Falkirk fans fully participated in.
Nicky Clark kicked off for the Pars attacking the goal in front of the Falkirk fans in the East Stand. A powerful run up the right by Paul McMullan won the home side a third minute corner. Cardle`s delivery was headed on by Geggan and then behind by Mark Kerr for another. Lee Ashcroft leapt high to try and get his head to that but the ball sailed over to the left.
The opening play was predominantly with Dunfermline as a further corner followed and then an early dangerous ball in from McMullan on the right was held by keeper Danny Rogers as Clark came in to meet it.
In ninth minute a Jason Talbot pass sent Moffat away but tracked by Peter Grant the defender was able to slide the ball out for a corner on the left. When Cardle sent the corner over it was met by Ashcroft but his header was cleared off the line.
Then with their first serious attack of the match Falkirk scored. Tony Gallagher go through on the Pars right and cut back a perfect ball for Myles HIPPOLYTE to slide in. 0-1
When play resumed it continued towards the Falkirk end but efforts continued to be thwarted by the team in white. McMullan earned another corner on the right in 21 minutes and when that came in Clark sent a header on to the crossbar and then Moffat was denied by the American born keeper at the far post. Play continued and as McMullan was flattened by Hippolyte in the box Moffat sent a snapshot low but narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
Dunfermline successfully defended a Falkirk free kick but Herron lost possession on the left and Hippolyte`s cross was headed over the bar by John Baird. Then in 29 minutes McCabe`s challenge on Hippolyte handed the Bairns a free kick just 23 yards out. Hippolyte struck the setpiece into the five man Pars wall and then the rebound into row eight of the McCathie Stand.
Very quickly a Pars free kick at the other end saw Cardle float the ball in from the right and although it was initially cleared Moffat gathered and his delivery dropped for Herron but his shot on goal was blocked.
Peter Grant was shown the match`s first card, yellow, as he took out Clark and Cardle had another free kick to send over from closer in than the previous one. Although causing havoc and McCabe getting in a shot on target, Falkirk cleared.
Then the home crowd roared in anticipation was Moffat slipped the ball inside for Clark with Cardle on the overlap but by the time the ball went left Falkirk had covered back and blotted out the chance. The Pars then had a superb chance as Moffat burst through again and with options arriving Falkirk denied those and McCabe got the shot in but again at a defender.
The home side finished strongly with McMullan creating more danger but Falkirk continued to hold their defences.
Half time: Dunfermline 0 Falkirk 1
The second half started with an early Pars chance but Clark`s header on a cross from the right travelled wide of the near post. Shepherd got up the right and Baird met his cross but sent the ball over the top.
Then in 58 minutes a Geggan cross was overhit and Cardle gathered on the left. Joe`s cross hit Taiwo and the referee Euan Anderson pointed to the spot with the Bairns complaining their man was outside the box. Rhys McCABE accepted the responsibility for the penalty kick and netted to the right giving Rogers no chance. 1-1
The goal raised the temperature in the stadium with both sets of fans getting very vocal. The players responded with a Falkirk break punctuated with a fine cross that Sibbald edged outside the right post. At the other end McMullan made an opportunity for Cardle but he sent his effort wide right.
The offside flag was up against Moffat in 67 minutes as Herron played a neat ball into the Falkirk box. Cardle proved to be too greedy after Clark sent the Pars man away but with McMullan square Cardle tried a shot only to be blocked. Dunfermlne continued to press.
A 72nd minute free kick was hit into the Falkirk wall by McCabe and between them Kerr and Sibbald scrambled the ball away. Three minutes later a fine pass from Cardle put Clark in on the left side but his shot was extremely unlucky since it travelled a cross goal and out beyond the far post.
The clock was running down and Falkirk introduced Bob McHugh with quarter of an hour remaining. Then Gavin Reilly became the first Pars sub on 81 minutes taking over upfront from Michael Moffat. He has through for a shot at goal but Rogers dropped to his right to hold.
Subs Michael Paton and Farid El Alagui were thrown on as well but it was Falkirk who created the most danger but nothing that the Pars defence could not deal with. In the end it was one point a piece, enough to take the Fifers back into seventh place on goal difference.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Andy Geggan (c), Lewis Martin, Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot: Paul McMullan, John Herron, Rhys McCabe, Joe Cardle (Michael Paton 85): Nicky Clark (Farid El Alagui 87), Michael Moffat (Gavin Reilly 81)
SUBS NOT USED: Ryan Williamson, Callum Fordyce, Nat Wedderburn, David Hutton (GK)
SCORERS: McCabe (59 pen.)
YELLOW CARD: Geggan (38)
FALKIRK: Daniel Rogers: Aaron Muirhead, Luca Gasparetto, Peter Grant, Tony Gallagher, Tom Taiwo (John Rankin 84) Craig Sibbald: Mark Kerr (c), Miles Hippolyte (Bob McHugh 75), John Baird, Scott Shepherd (Lee Miller 84)
SUBS NOT USED: Paul Watson, Lewis Kidd, Luke Leahy, Deiz Dogan Mehmet (GK).
SCORERS: Hippolyte (10)
YELLOW CARD: Grant (33), Sibbald (52), Taiwo (58), Muirhead (59)
REFEREE: Euan Anderson
WEATHER: Cold, Showery 5C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (away) v Raith Rovers Monday 2nd January 2017, 3.00pm kick off at Starks Park