SFL Div One: FALKIRK 1 DUNFERMLINE 1 : Date: 16/02/13

Dunfermline returned to the Falkirk Stadium hoping to do better than the 2-2 draw they salvaged there back in October. On any other day it would have been the First Division Match of the Day, and it was for the fans that turned out but there was a modicum of interest in the top of the table meeting at Cappielow where Partick Thistle were the visitors.

Jim Jefferies had to bring in Ryan Thomson and Stephen Husband for the injured Shaun Burne and Chris Kane. Craig Dargo was preferred to Joe Cardle and U20 striker Allan Smith made the first team bench for the first time. For Falkirk Sean Higgins and Ryan McGeever dropped out of the side beaten at Cowdenbeath the previous Saturday with Kieran Duffie and Thomas Grant coming in.

Dargo and Kirk got the game underway attacking the goal at the south end.  Getting to grips first with the heavily sanded surface, Falkirk did the early pressing. Josh Falkingham was taken out late by Jay Fulton earning a fourth minute free kick that Ryan Wallace pumped into the Bairns box but that was headed clear.

At the other end Jordan McMillan conceded a free kick 22 yards out but thankfully Grant did not have the Gareth Bale finish and his attempt cleared the crossbar.  Wallace and then Thomson tried unsuccessfully to drive through the Falkirk defence.  A 14th minute free kick delivered from the far left touchline by Wallace pushed the Pars up but Falkirk soaked up the Dunfermline threat.

Falkingham's cross for Wallace was too big but he retrieved the ball at the corner flag to tuck it back for McMillan to tee up Husband with an effort from 35 yards that was not to trouble keeper Michael McGovern. The Pars enjoyed a period of possession as they appeared to take a better grip of the game and Dargo had a shot from the edge of the box but he was wide left of target.

Dunfermline were then almost caught out on the counter attack. In the Falkirk half Morris took out Taylor that was to earn him a yellow card, but Fulton broke and it took a vital last man tackle from Andy Dowie to prevent a glorious opportunity falling to the home team.

Darren Dods got a header on and Grant free kick but Paul Gallacher held with ease. Then Falkingham sent a cross from deep on the right dipping on to the roof of the Falkirk net but then the wee Yorkshireman appeared to twist his ankle as a result of a hole in the pitch, there was not a challenge on him.  So Jefferies was forced into a substitution, Alex Whittle coming on in 31st minute.

The delay allowed Falkirk to think hard about the delivery from Grant's corner on the left and Gallacher had to turn the effort from the first over the bar and then the second dropped wide left. Ross Millen contested the referee's decision to award Falkirk a 35th minute corner but fortunately Murdoch's header was off target as well.

Two minutes later Dunfermline's first corner of the match was sent over by Wallace and Thomson got a free header but remarkably the ball bounced down but then up and over the crossbar.  Dods charged down another Husband drive as the home support groaned at the Fifers continued possession.  A Thomson cut back picked out Dargo but his attempt to steer the ball into the Falkirk net did not have enough steam.

Half Time: Falkirk 0 Dunfermline 0

The second half could have started really well. Just three minutes into it McMillan's shot from the edge of the box was blocked and dropped for Whittle.  The Englishman's shot appeared to take a deflection as the left goalpost kept it out and then McGovern closed out Dargo's follow up. Quite a let off for Falkirk!

The Pars crowd needed little encouragement and they made plenty noise as Wallace took two corners from the right. The low delivery gave Falkirk problems and Dowie's shot was deflected right for yet another. The third corner was met by Callum Morris but his header from six yards hit the crossbar and went over.

Pressure continued towards McGovern's goal with Kirk going down in a challenge from Dods as Millen centred a useful ball. Another Pars corner in 58 minutes was headed clear by Kingsley.

Then in 61 minutes a let off in front of Gallacher's goal. A defended ball on the edge of the box fell kindly for Fulton and amazingly Lyle Taylor headed wide from close in. Then Gallacher saved from Grant when it looked very likely that Falkirk would net.  Falkirk were certainly in the resurgence until an injury to Whittle took the momentum out of the match at the midway point of the second half.

Duffie's attacking flair sent a pass through to Taylor that he switched quickly out to Grant on the right. The equally swift return was only just missed by Taylor as he dived towards the cross.  Dunfermline reacted and Wallace had no luck with his efforts to penetrate the right side of the Falkirk box. Joe Cardle then replaced Craig Dargo with just over quarter of an hour remaining.

A 77th minute free kick on the right level with the penalty spot was sent in by Wallace but Dowie's header went wide left. A long ball from Morris almost caught Falkirk out as Whittle came close to getting in at the far post. Another Pars corner created nervousness in the Bairns box but still the defence came out ahead.

The sun came out on the Grangemouth skyline but there were rays of hope for the Fifers in 82 minutes when Husband picked out Millen on the right. His perfect cross into the six yard box deceived Dods but also wrong footed the inrushing Kirk. At the other end Gallacher held a Brian Alston shot but then it was back to the other end. McMillan tried twice to get a shot away, then laid the ball off for Whittle to flash the ball across goal. Wallace gathered and squared for McMillan but remarkably his well connected effort was cleared off the line!

Stephen Pressley introduced David WEATHERSTON for Grant in 87 minutes and he had an immediate chance as he found himself with the opportunity to shoot from 18 yards. Gallacher could do little about the sub's good finish and the Pars went 1-0 down.

There was no way back and Dunfermline went down to their fifth defeat in their last six games. Worst still for the 642 travelling support, back to back defeats to the Bairns.  Through at the tail of the bank, Morton came back to draw 2-2 with Thistle so yet another opportunity missed for Dunfermline to close the gap on the two teams above them.

FALKIRK; Michael McGovern; Kieran Duffie, Darren Dods, Jonathon Flynn, Stephen Kingsley; Stewart Murdoch, Thomas Grant (David Weatherston 87), Brian Alston, Jay Fulton (Sean Higgins 83), Conor McGrandles, Lyle Taylor.
SUBS NOT USED: Lewis Small, Liam Dick, Graham Bowman (GK),
YELLOW CARD: Taylor (45+1)
SCORER: Weatherston (87)

DUNFERMLINE: Paul Gallacher; Ross Millen, Andy Dowie, Callum Morris, Jordan McMillan (c); Josh Falkingham (Alex Whittle 31), Ryan Thomson, Stephen Husband; Craig Dargo (Joe Cardle 74), Andy Kirk, Ryan Wallace.
SUBS NOT USED: John Potter, Allan Smith, Michael Hrivnak (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Morris (19);McMillan (63)

REFEREE: Steven McLean
WEATHER: Overcast 9C
ATTENDANCE: 3680 inc 642 Pars fans

NEXT MATCH: (home) Irn Bru First Division v Morton
Saturday 23rd February 2013, kick off 3.00pm<

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