Pars lack fizz in Irn Bru Cup exit
Callum Smith was recalled from the Scotland Under 19 get together and started up front alongside Nicky Clark. Callum Morris, Ryan Williamson and Fraser Aird were on international duty. Jean Yves M'Voto returned to the squad after one day's training following his injury. Joe Cardle and Michael Paton remained unavailable through injury. David Hopkirk seemingly picked up another injury (not mentioned in Allan Johnston's pre-match comments). The team lined up in the predictable 4-4-2 formation, when 4-3-3 would have been a better fit for the players selected.
MINUTES THAT MATTERED:
18' Conrad Balatoni put Falkirk 1-0 up after a needlessly conceded corner kick.
59' Miles Hippolyte made it 2-0 after more slack defending.
65' Falkirk keeper David Mitchell was stretchered off with what appeared to be a serious injury.
90+6' Dean Shiels was red carded after a rash challenge on Joe McKee.
The lack of "minutes that mattered" (above) tells its own story for the second consecutive game. Dunfermline had 2 efforts of note in the whole game, neither of which impacted the game and so have not been included in the list above: Declan McManus' second half shot was turned round the post, and later in the game Nicky Clark had an effort parried by sub keeper Robbie Thomson.
For all the pre-game talk of players being unavailable, the starting 11 contained regulars in Murdoch, Talbot, Wedderburn, Ashcroft, Higginbotham, Shiels, McManus, Clark and Smith. This was not a Pars reserve team, so there can be no excuses. Yes, Ryan Williamson was missed, as was Callum Morris. But if we are going to rely on 11 key players being 100% available every week of the season, we are in trouble.
The 11 players who started the game should have lined up in a 4-3-3 formation but as always Allan Johnston preferred to put a striker on the wing to retain his usual 4-4-2. For 10 minutes in the second half, it changed to 4-3-3 but not for long; Johnston changed it back to 4-4-2 and had 4 centre forwards playing, 2 of them out of position on the wings.
In some ways, it is a relief to be out of this pointless competition. The manner of the exit was so disappointing though. It was another no-show against our rivals, and has to be addressed immediately, if the manager is capable of doing so.
Pass marks to Jason Talbot and Declan McManus.
Photos and edits by Pars Review
Tomorrow: match photo gallery & matchday vlog