Lack of discipline costs Pars a rare win at Falkirk as two see red
Dean Shiels, Joe Cardle and Declan McManus came back into the team at the expense of Aaron Splaine, Fraser Aird and Callum Smith, who were all named among the substitutes.
MINUTES THAT MATTERED:
28' GOAL! Nicky Clark was fouled in the box and Kallum Higginbotham scored from the resultant penalty.
30' Higginbotham booked; almost given second yellow in 2 separate incidents before half time.
55' Higginbotham received second yellow card - sent off and Pars down to 10 men.
63' Jordan McGhee equalised for Falkirk from a free kick.
90+2' Pars broke upfield and Dean Shiels fouled as he was set to make a decisive pass to put a Dunfermline attacker through on goal. In a tussle that followed, Declan McManus received a second yellow card and was sent off. Pars down to 9 men.
90+4' Falkirk's Nathan Austin saw his header hit the post and into Murdoch's arms.
Indiscipline on the field, arguments between fans in the away stand, a first half lead thrown away, yet another goal conceded from a free kick and a failure to make a suitable tactical adjustment from the manager after going down to 10 men; yet the team (or what was left of it) pulled together despite being under pressure in the second half and came away with a valuable point. Dunfermline's winless run at Falkirk's stadium is now set to extend to a 7th year, with today being a wasted opportunity to end the poor run of results at the home of our rivals.
The first half saw Dunfermline take the lead through a Kallum Higginbotham penalty but there was little else to get enthused about. Both sides had a couple of half chances but the game was yet to ignite. That would come in the second half when Higginbotham, always a red card waiting to happen in this type of fixture, was sent off for a second booking and immediately the whole balance of the game swung in Falkirk's favour. The home side had almost total possession for the final half hour, with Dunfermline under siege, out numbered and not helped by the manager's refusal to bring on an extra midfielder to shore up the middle of the park. The ineffective Clark was a poor choice to play as a lone striker - with McManus, better suited to that role, pushed out wide after the team were reduced to 10 men. This meant that the pressure on the defence increased further. Centre half Jean Yves M'Voto, eventually brought on as a sub for Joe Cardle in the 82nd minute, had been sent to warm up midway through the second half, which would have been a better time to make a change. Clark was subbed with 4 minutes remaining, replaced by midfielder Fraser Aird. Only luck and resolute defending had prevented Falkirk scoring a winning goal prior to the all-too-late substitutions.
Falkirk's equaliser was another example of a free kick from outside the box beating Pars keeper Murdoch. Johnston later claimed that Murdoch had slipped as he dived to try to make the save.
The defence fought hard as a unit to keep Falkirk out, while in midfield Nat Wedderburn and, especially, Dean Shiels had good games. Shiels was enjoying his best game for Dunfermline but was, understandably, less involved in a creative sense after Higginbotham's sending off.
McManus was also red carded in added on time after Falkirk had cynically fouled Shiels, who was about to release a through ball in a Pars breakaway.
The team showed that they are prepared to dig in and secure what was, ultimately, a good point given the events of the second half.
Photos and edits by Pars Review
Tomorrow: StatPack feature plus match photo gallery