The first quarter of Championship fixtures was completed today and after failing to add to their points tally, the Pars have now played every team once, and have gained just 7 points from the 9 games played. The much-anticipated derby against Falkirk saw a travelling support of over 1400 fill the away stand, only to be badly let down by the team over the 90 minutes that followed.
Two changes were made from the starting 11 from last week's game in the Challenge Cup: Joe Cardle was injured and replaced by Kallum Higginbotham, while Farid El Alagui made his first Pars start, with Gavin Reilly dropping to the bench. Early action was fairly even with both teams intent on attacking. Higginbotham came closest for Dunfermline when his shot was cleared off the line, and for the home side John Baird had a good effort that was well saved by Sean Murdoch.
The deficiencies in the Pars team were laid bare in the 26th minute when Falkirk took the lead. A cross field ball from Baird totally evaded the Dunfermline central midfield, and found Craig Sibbald who gave Murdoch no chance. The midfield duo of Andy Geggan and Rhys McCabe were failing to protect the defence, and were also offering nothing in an attacking sense. Injuries to Nat Wedderburn and, especially, John Herron have not helped but options were reduced by sending Lewis Spence on loan, although the jury is out on whether he is the answer. To "have to" select Geggan and McCabe week after week is a sign of poor recruitment over the summer by the manager, and the decision to release Josh Falkingham is being proved wrong time after time, including today.
Eight minutes into the second half , Falkirk doubled their lead. Myles Hippolyte was allowed to run with the ball unchallenged - Geggan in particular just stood by and let the Falkirk forward go past him. Hippolyte took full advantage and his powerful shot tore into the net.
David Hopkirk came on for McCabe, with Higginbotham moving to central midfield. Both sides had half chances but it was the Pars who scored next. El Alagui took advantage of indecisiveness in the Falkirk defence to score from close range. Gavin Reilly came on for Michael Paton in what was now an attack-minded Pars line-up but on closer examination, a fairly shambolic selection of attackers spread all over the park and no real shape, with Reilly on the right wing and Higginbotham in midfield. Geggan was booked for a bad tempered foul, while at right back, Ryan Williamson was giving various Falkirk attackers time and space to put crosses into the box, forcing Murdoch and the better defenders - Talbot and Ashcroft - to stay alert at all times.
The final chance for an equaliser fell to Geggan, who took a wild swipe when the ball fell to him 20 yards out, sending the ball high into the stand.
Pars starting 11 player ratings (subs: Hopkirk 6/10; Reilly 5/10):
All photos by Pars Review.
A full match photo gallery will be posted on Sunday.