The blood and thunder of Pars/Falkirk games appears to be a thing of the distant past with today's game being a second successive tepid meeting of the clubs. The opposition might as well have been Queen of the South, Morton or any other team and not our supposed rivals from Grangemouth. While Dunfermline will point to having more efforts directly on goal, none of them were struck with sufficient accuracy to score until Rhys McCabe's well taken second half penalty kick.
There was a minute's applause before kick-off to mark the passing of Pars director Margaret Ross.
Pars manager Allan Johnston brought Andy Geggan back into the team at right back, with Callum Fordyce losing his place and Lewis Martin moving to central defence after playing at full back last week. In midfield, John Herron replaced Nat Wedderburn, and Joe Cardle came in for the suspended Kallum Higginbotham, with Paul McMullan moving from the left side to the right wing.
The Pars had a couple of early efforts with Lee Ashcroft coming closest when his header was cleared off the line in the 9th minute. One minute later, Falkirk went ahead. Geggan was posted missing at right back, and although Ashcroft pulled the shirt of his opponent, the ball broke to Miles Hippolyte to score. Slack defending.
After 21 minutes Nicky Clark's header hit the bar, then Cardle failed to take advantage of being put through, delaying his shot and then losing possession, as he did almost every time the ball was given to him. Geggan was then booked for a late foul.
The second half began with Falkirk having the majority of the ball but unable to test Pars keeper Sean Murdoch. Dunfermline's attacks were sporadic and there was no great fluency to the Pars play. Only Paul McMullan of the attacking players was having a good game, with several direct runs and good link-up play with his team mates. On the left side (or wherever he drifted to) Cardle was having a poor game, his cutting inside now so predictable, and the Falkirk defence able to dispossess him easily.
Dunfermline were awarded a penalty by referee Euan Anderson, who decided that the ball had hit Falkirk's Tom Taiwo on the hand inside the box. It seemed a very generous award in keeping with the festive time of year. The referee then booked Falkirk's Aaron Muirhead who had claimed the ball was not on the penalty spot, when it clearly was. This piece of gamesmanship did not put off Rhys McCabe, who easily put the ball past Danny Rogers to equalise.
In the 70th minute Cardle was in a great position to play in any one of Clark, Herron or McMullan but tried a shot that hit the Falkirk defender standing in front of him. Pars boss Johnston yet again failed to make a substitution until it was too late in the game, with Gavin Reilly replacing the Moff in 81 minutes, followed by Michael Paton replacing Cardle with only 5 minutes remaining, and Farid El Alagui given 3 minutes in place of Clark. Reilly had one effort at goal that failed to trouble Rogers, the shot hit with no real conviction. Falkirk had a couple of late efforts, with John Rankin smashing the ball high over the bar when in a good position to test Murdoch.
Pars starting 11, with marks out of 10:
Photos by Pars Review.
Tomorrow: full match gallery.