All photos by Pars Review.
Unbeaten runs always come to an end but this was the worst possible way for Dunfermline to lose after 11 undefeated games - an abject display against one of our biggest rivals that produced no fight and was quite honestly gutless. From the start, it was obvious that the team were disjointed and unable to put the home side under any pressure. A Michael Moffat effort in the 38th minute was the Pars only serious attempt at goal in the first half, and even it missed the target. The first half was a terrible game to watch, regardless of the result. Falkirk's John Baird put his side ahead after 34 minutes from close range with the Pars defence failing to react.
The Pars defence was giving Sean Murdoch in goal no protection. Murdoch made a couple of excellent saves but had to watch as Andy Geggan wandered around the pitch like a drunk at a wedding with a free bar. Geggan's place has to be under threat after this wretched performance. Jason Talbot was the best of a bad bunch in defence. The central pair of Lee Ashcroft and Callum Morris were shaky and not in tune with each other. Ashcroft missed a chance to equalise in the second half that had older Pars fans longing for an Andy Tod attacking corner kicks. Morris attempted long passes from defence to 5'8'' strikers, and not surprisingly the tactic rarely succeeded.
Falkirk closed down the Dunfermline midfield, nullifying the impact of Nat Wedderburn and John Herron. Kallum Higginbotham was the outlet for most of the lumps up the park from his team mates but even he was unable to produce much of any worth. On the other wing, Paul McMullan had a poor game, although his effort cannot be criticised.
In attack (and I use that word loosely) Nicky Clark and the Moff were ineffective. As a pairing, Jack and Victor from Still Game would have given the Falkirk central defence a harder physical battle.
Allan Johnston made uncharacteristically early substitutions, bringing on David Hopkirk and Gavin Reilly after 63 minutes. Neither player did their case for selection any good whatsoever. Reilly does not look interested, while Hopkirk looked to be playing at least one division above his capabilities. Joe Cardle was given 9 minutes at the end to cut inside from the left wing, to little effect.
Falkirk doubled their lead through Lee Miller in the 77th minute, after Murdoch made a great save and once again the defence failed to react quickly enough.
Having been at every first team game this season, home and away, this was easily the worst that I have seen the team play. This report is written in frustration but I make no apologies for the sarcasm applied in the descriptions of how certain players performed. The fans deserve better than this. We have no divine right to win, or even avoid defeat, but the performance was simply unacceptable.
Pars starting 11, with marks out of 10:
Photos by Pars Review.
Tomorrow: full match photo gallery.
Edited image by www.instagram.com/dunfermlineloyal/
Nat Wedderburn photo by Pars Review.
Match report/opinion will be posted later today.
Scottish Championship - Saturday 04/02/17 - KO 3.00pm - The Falkirk Stadium
Odds (Ladbrokes): Falkirk 21/10; Draw 5/2; Dunfermline 5/2
The Bairns and the Pars meet for the third time this season, with Dunfermline looking to defeat their rivals in their own ground for the first time since March 2011. In the 4 matches in Falkirk since, the home side have won 3, and drawn 1. The previous meeting in Falkirk this season was a relatively tame affair, given the historic rivalry between the clubs. Falkirk ran out 2-1 winners. The next time the teams met, at East End Park in December, the points were shared in a 1-1 draw.
The 2-1 victory over St Mirren last weekend continued a mini-revival for Falkirk in the Championship, with 2 wins and a draw from the past 3 games, coming after a run of 4 games without a win in December. Falkirk are currently in the fourth place play-off position, and have only the League to play for after losing at Morton in the Scottish Cup 2 weeks ago.
Manager Peter Houston has spoken in the media about his frustration at being denied money for new players. In order to bring in Fraser Aird and Robbie Thomson, Houston had to trim his squad. This month, Falkirk have received 2 payments for ex-players (Stephen Kingsley and Will Vaulks) both of whom had clauses in their transfers that result in Falkirk receiving additional cash when the players make a certain number of appearances for their new clubs. Houston, however, was not given any of this money for new signings. He commented: "I think we're still short but I've got to go with the powers that be and I'm not getting any money to spend. I think we're short in the middle of midfield. The reason I let John Rankin go was to get Fraser in. Deniz Mehmet left and we brought in Robbie. I can only go with what I'm given and I'm not getting any more, unfortunately. We received benefits from Stephen Kingsley playing his 15th game for Swansea, and there's money to come in for the second part of Will Vaulks' fee. So there's plenty of money coming in. I asked - but I never got."
Earlier this week, Houston added midfielder Joe McKee to his squad, after the player was released by Carlisle United.
Here is the current Championship table:
Injured: Ben Richards-Everton, Ryan Williamson
The transfer window closed with no late additions to the Dunfermline squad. The only January signing was Callum Morris, early in the transfer period. Meanwhile, Under 20s players Cammy Gill, Euan Spark, Conner Duthie and Scott Lochhead were loaned to clubs in League 1 and League 2, and young striker Ciaran Lafferty was released.
The first team are now unbeaten in 11 games in League & Cup. The next 4 League games, however, will provide a stiff test as the Pars face the top 4 teams in the division. Continuity of selection has allowed the team to The side has a very settled look to it, The only change in the past few weeks was Morris coming in for an on-form Callum Fordyce. Allan Johnston is unlikely to make any changes for tomorrow's game. A natural right back would improve the team further but Andy Geggan is likely to continue there.
A Pars victory tomorrow would possibly be the most significant win of the season so far. Defeating one of our biggest rivals in their own stadium would give the team even greater belief in themselves and could result in a concerted push for the promotion play-off places in the weeks ahead.
Same team as last week - no need to change any position given the players available.
Preferred starting 11, with squad numbers:
Photo by Pars Review.
Tomorrow: Game Day image, then later in the evening match report/opinion with photos and Pars player ratings.
A hugely enjoyable and informative Supporters Council meeting took place on Thursday evening at East End Park. DAFC Chairman Ross McArthur was the first speaker, and gave an update on the club's financial situation (breaking even) but highlighted that there is only one home game in February, and that the bulk of the club's gate receipts will come in the final weeks of the season, when Hibs, Falkirk and Raith all visit. Ross also covered the contentious subject of the new SPFL ticketing policy, and how the Pars online ticketing system can still be improved to meet the demands of the new criteria.
General manager Mikey Mlotkiewicz then gave a presentation of what his job role involves. The role is all-encompassing, ranging from ensuring that potholes are filled, to the design of next season's strips, to all aspects of the club's marketing, social media and many other areas of work that all combine to fill his days and hours, outside the parameter of typical working hours. It is clear that the club is in very good hands with Ross and Mikey in these lead roles.
The next part of the meeting was hosted by former Pars player Bonar Mercer, who did a great job interviewing 4 Dunfermline legends, individually and then as a group. Ian Westwater spoke first, talking about his ex team mate Norrie McCathie, and also about his debut for Hearts age 16, when he became the youngest ever goalkeeper to play in the top division of Scottish football. Westie also covered his infamous appearance as an outfield player in a game against Airdrie, when he came on as a sub and had an eventful 3 minutes.
Next to the podium was club doctor and former captain Bobby Robertson. Bobby told several stories about how he combined his playing career with his work as a doctor, including how he got through traffic with police assistance when running late for a game against Rangers at Ibrox.
1960s legend Willie Callaghan was next, and what a character he is. His sense of humour and straight talking had the crowd fully entertained (just don't mention ex-Pars boss George Farm to him!)
The final Pars legend to speak was Kenny Thomson, who played for the club for 12 years before being released and playing on until his late 30s. Kenny spoke about the game at Ibrox when he scored one of the Pars goals before being upstaged by Jim Leishman's winning goal.
This was a fantastic evening, combining current goings-on at East End Park with some wonderful nostalgia. For a full and detailed report, please visit dafc.info/forum/read.php?f=1&i=1601583&t=1601583. The club's official site will also have an article about the event in the next day or so.
Photos in this article by Pars Review.
The Pars occupy sixth place in the Championship, and are also the sixth placed team for all of the following categories: home form, away form, goals scored, and goals conceded. In contrast, top of the table Hibs (8 points clear of second place Dundee United, and 11 clear of third place Morton), are only in third place for results from home games, 4 points behind Morton, who have the best home record. Hibs have gained 15 points more than Morton in away games.
Four of Dunfermline's five clean sheets in League games have been in matches away from home.
The Pars are now unbeaten in 11 games (9 League & 2 Scottish Cup) but have won only once in the past 8 home games, (7 Championship and 1 Challenge Cup game). The results in this 8 home game sequence are: LDLDWDDD.
Dunfermline have conceded just one goal in the opening 15 minutes of the 22 Championship games played so far this season.
The last time the Pars failed to score in a League game was on 8 November.
Photo supplied by Gary, used with permission.
Join the Moff as he travels through time and space to visit Pars games from the past, in his PARDIS time travel machine. Today, the PARDIS has redirected the Moff from the present day, making a brief visit to The Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium, Dumbarton (above), then taking him back in time 31 years to the same town but at Dumbarton's previous ground, Boghead, in 1986.
December 13, 1986 - Scottish First Division - Dumbarton 1, Dunfermline 3
Season 1986/87 saw Dunfermline secure a second consecutive promotion, moving through what was then a 3-division Scottish League, into the Premier Division. Manager Jim Leishman's team included names that are now legends in the history of the club, none more so than the scorer of the winning goal in this game, Norrie McCathie.
Dumbarton and Dunfermline were separated by one point going into the game. Dumbarton had been a Premier Division side just 2 years before, and had missed out on a return to the top division by just two points in season 1985/86. Dumbarton's management team had strong Pars connections - manager Alex Totten had been a Dunfermline player from 1965-1969, and his assistant Bert Paton was one of the club's greatest ever players, during an 11 year period at East End Park from 1961-1972. Paton, of course, would return to Dunfermline as manager in the 1990s.
A crowd of over 4000 watched the game kick off in Dumbarton's Boghead Stadium. As the venue's name suggested, the pitch was often heavy and this was the case during this game. It was Dunfermline who came closest to opening the scoring when John Watson's diving header narrowly missed the goal in the 7th minute. Two minutes later the Pars took the lead when John Donnelly's free kick was headed down by Watson to Grant Jenkins, whose pass found Ian McCall. The midfielder shot home from 15 yards.
Another future Par, Owen Coyle, then missed a chance to equalise, shooting wide from 10 yards. Four minutes before half time the home side scored, when current Falkirk manager Peter Houston hit a 25 yard shot that tore past Ian Westwater to make the score 1-1.
Westwater was busy at the start of the second half, making 3 crucial saves. Dumbarton were on top but could not take advantage. Dunfermline were still dangerous and could have gone ahead through Steve Morrison, who shot over the bar. Coyle then saw a shot cleared off the line by Bobby Robertson as the game moved from end to end.
With 9 minutes remaining, Dunfermline got the winning goal. Morrison played a freekick into the Dumbarton penalty box. The home side's keeper, Gordon Arthur, punched the ball but failed to get any distance, and watched as Norrie McCathie reacted fastest to get his head on the ball as it fell from the sky, and directed it beyond Arthur and into the net.
The following week, the same two Pars players would score again in a 2-2 draw at Morton, with the Pars equaliser coming through McCathie in the final minute.
Pars team: Westwater, Robertson, Forrest, McCathie, Young, Donnelly, Hamilton, Morrison, Watson, McCall, Jenkins.
On the same week this game was played, the UK number 1 single was The Final Countdown, by Europe. The UK number 1 album was Now That's What I Call Music 8.