Today we look back at a game from Hogmanay 2005 between the Pars and our opponents this weekend, Falkirk. Both clubs were in the Premier League - the Pars in their sixth consecutive season in the top division while Falkirk were in their first season back in the division, with a new stadium that had opened the previous year. The Pars were managed by Jim Leishman, in his second spell in charge, while Falkirk's boss was their ex-captain John Hughes.
FALKIRK 1, DUNFERMLINE 2
SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE
31 DECEMBER 2005
The away stand at Falkirk was sold out as 1900 Pars fans travelled over the Kincardine Bridge to support their team. Dunfermline lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, with Greg Ross (usually a fullback) playing in the right of the 3 man midfield, and Greg Shields, another player more commonly seen at fullback, in central defence. Width was provided by wingbacks Jamie McCunnie and Scott Thomson, while up front, Mark Burchill and Noel Hunt would give the Falkirk defence a hard afternoon.
The crowd of 6235 saw Falkirk take the game to Dunfermline in the opening minutes. Andy Tod received an early booking after bringing down Darryl Duffy just outside the penalty box.
The Pars' first decent attack came after 19 minutes when Burchill played a good ball to Gary Mason but the midfielder's effort went well over the bar. Dunfermline had more possession but were relieved not to go behind in the 32nd minute: Russell Latapy's pass to Duffy saw the striker get to the ball just before Pars keeper Allan McGregor but his chipped effort came off the bar and was cleared.
Burchill came close 3 minutes before the break after a corner from McCunnie was flicked on by Thomson and Scott Wilson, then gathered by Burchill whose shot was blocked. Just when it seemed the game would be goalless at halftime, Dunfermline scored. Burchill was the scorer, taking a loose ball just outside the penalty box then placing a well-struck shot past Falkirk keeper Matt Glennon.
Latapy had the first opportunity of the second half when he forced a good save from McGregor in the 51st minute. After 57 minutes, Dunfermline - temporarily down to 10 men, with Thomson off the pitch receiving treatment for an injury - went 2-0 up. A free kick from Darren Young was met by Noel Hunt who headed in the Pars' second goal. Huge celebrations followed as Hunt did a double somersault and then piled into the Pars support at the front of the away stand.
Hunt turned provider a few minutes later but from his pass, Burchill was unable to keep his shot down and the ball flew over the bar.
With 68 minutes gone, Falkirk pulled a goal back. Gow's cross from the left found Duffy, unmarked 8 yards from goal, who shot past McGregor. Two minutes later, Gow almost equalised when his shot hit the bar; the rebound fell to McBreen but his shot was cleared yards from an empty net by Andy Tod. The Pars were clinging onto their lead - former Dunfermline defender Craig Ireland headed over, then Scally's curving effort from outside the box was clawed away from the underside of the bar by McGregor.
With 60 seconds remaining, Tod's attempted clearance spun back towards goal and forced McGregor into yet another save - the on-loan Pars keeper was the team's outstanding player on the day and a huge factor in the eventual victory, which came after 3 torturous minutes of added time.
Pars line-up v Falkirk, with squad numbers (player in background image - Mark Burchill):