Falkirk 2 Dunfermline Athletic 2Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 6th Oct 2012
What wins championships is not just the big victories when things are going well but the points snatched in less propitious circumstances. A lot of water has still to run under the Kincardine Bridge before this season is out, but this could be a key result in demonstrating the credibility of the Pars title ambitions. Trailing to a Lyle Taylor double with 11 minutes left, the Pars launched a stirring fight-back to equalise with goals from Barrowman and Thomson.
There was one minute’s silence before kick-off in memory of long serving Falkirk FC servant Bill Anderson - this was well observed within the ground, but the sounds of singing from Pars fans queuing outside could clearly be heard. This was unfortunate, but it’s hard to see how in practice fans outside the ground could be aware of any memorial. Certainly, access to the stadium was not quick, despite the bar-code readers set up to facilitate this.
Turning to the teams, the Pars lined up unchanged, even down to the bench: Gallacher in goals, McMillan, Dowie, Morris and Jordan along the back; Husband, Geggan and Falkingham in central midfield, Cardle on the left wing and Wallace and Barrowman in attack. The substitutes would be any 3 from the 5 of Kirk, Thomson, Dargo, Potter and Hrivnak.
As for the Bairns – there had been positive reports about their young side pre-season, but they hadn’t made a good start to the actual campaign. There weren’t too many familiar faces in the line-up – Michael McGovern (who nearly signed for the Pars) was in goals and the experienced Darren Dods captained the squad from central defence. One to watch out for was the speedy Lyle Taylor. The Bairns named a trialist at No. 2 – someone who looked uncannily like former Scottish Internationalist Robbie Neilson – and he would start as one of 3 centre-backs as the home team would pack the midfield.
Falkirk kicked off defending the “third stand” end, housing some of their own fan. It was a scrappy start, as local derbies often are, with neither side being given time on the ball. The Pars had a slight alarm when a cross from the Bairns’ right passed all the way through the box before Husband chested to safety. At the other end, Falkingham made space for a shot, but his tame effort was gathered easily by McGovern.
The Pars had a better chance when awarded a free-kick in front of the main stand. Jordon, wearing yellow boots this week, seems to have responsibility for left-foot dead balls and his dangerous delivery to the front post was turned behind for the Pars’ first corner. Cardle took this, and Dowie eluded his marker to get a free-header, but his effort was always going over the top.
It was competitive to say the least, with Higgins driving the Pars fans to near-apoplexy after getting away with only a lecture from referee Colvin after 4 fouls in the first 15 minutes. Geggan, by contrast, was yellowed for his first foul, although to be fair, it was a blatant trip on Taylor as he headed into a dangerous area. McMillan ensured the crime count was evened up when he stayed on the deck after a late challenge from Murdoch, and the former Berwick Rangers midfielder was booked.
Morris got a chance to show-case his pace in the seventeenth minute when Dowie tried to head back to his keeper from miles out, Taylor pouncing on the error but Callum managed to nick the ball away from the forward and clear the ball for a shy. Despite this, and despite another close thing when Gallacher grabbed a cross off the head of Taylor, the Pars began to settle. In 20 minutes Wallace’s persistence paid off when he got the break of the ball at the third attempt and was through on goal, but McGovern saved well at his near post. McMillan was alert to the play not long after when he made ground to get on the end of Barrowman’s knock-down but had to take the shot right footed and his effort skewed past the post.
However, it was the home team that took the lead, in simple fashion – the Pars were pressing, lost possession and the ball was quickly sent forward. Taylor outpaced Dowie, kept his balance after Andy stuck a foot in, and rammed the ball underneath Gallacher from 12 yards. 1-0 Bairns.
The Pars continued to struggle - the midfield couldn’t get a grip of the ball and when they went long, as in 38 minutes, Wallace doing well to control a Dowie pass, there was no support and only Barrowman in the middle to aim at. Falkirk looked dangerous coming from deep and thus McMillan also went into the book for a trip on Taylor.
Half-time: Bairns 1 Pars 0
Hopes of the same quick start as experienced at Hamilton didn’t materialise – the Pars did launch a rapid attack but McMillan ran the ball out of play. Instead the early action was at the other end. Morris looks a classy player but sometimes chooses the wrong option. After stopping up one attack he shimmied past his man but then played a poor pass to Dowie that was easily read; a minute later he was robbed as he tried to shepherd the ball out of play. Each time Gallacher was there to mop up.
The Pars weren’t so lucky in 55 minutes. An attack had broken down when McMillan cut the ball behind Wallace and Falkirk came forward. Alston chipped over the top to Taylor who took it past Dowie onto his right foot before burying it beyond Gallacher. 2-0.
Dunfermline needed to hit back immediately. They won a corner on the right which Cardle hit to the near post but Neilson got ahead of Barrowman to head behind. Joe’s second corner came back to him and he chipped in left-footed, but Morris’s spectacular overhead attempt bobbled past the far post.