Ladbrokes Championship: Falkirk 0 Dunfermline 2: 06/10/18

Allan Johnston gave a vote of confidence to the side that defeated Partick Thistle the previous week. For Louis Longridge it was the first return to the Falkirk Stadium in black and white and other former Bairn James Craigen continued at right back while Myles Hippolyte was on the bench.

Falkirk made one change from team defeated Alloa Athletic, Paul Paton’s absence created space for the return of Jordan McGhee.

Both teams had ended a poor run with wins last time out but it was tenth v eighth and the points at stake were very important. This derby match is always keenly contested and eagerly anticipated by both sets of fans. The Pars fans who had turned up in their usual good numbers were hoping for the win that would lift them eight points clear of their hottest rivals.

The teams emerged to an extremely loud welcome, Lee Ashcroft leading the team out in their silver away kit. The message Show Racism the Red Card was held up by players of both sides as they lined up facing the main stand. A great atmosphere then at Westfield for this first derby of the season as the home side got the match underway attacking the goal in front of the travelling support.

Most of the early attacking was done by the visitors but they were caught offside twice within the opening five minutes. In seven minutes a Malaury Martin free kick from the left failed to get enough elevation and the Bairns defence easily cleared. Still the Fifers pushed forward and Aaron Muirhead had to head away a fine delivery from the right by Faissal El Bakhtaoui. When Tom Dallison tumbled Andy Ryan on the right, Martin had another opportunity to pump in a free kick and this time the defended ball fell to Ashcroft but he crashed the ball high into the crowd.

Another Martin free kick in 13th minute evaded defenders but El Bakhtaoui just couldn’t get on the end of it as the ball travelled out on the left for a goal kick. Falkirk were on the park but their passing was letting them down badly meaning they were creating no threat whatsoever.

An 18th minute free kick was headed back towards his own goal by Muirhead and Mark Durnan was unlucky not to get close to the chance. Aidan Connolly cracked a shot on target that keeper Leo Fasan beat away, Martin followed up with a fierce effort that Muirhead blocked.

First Falkirk effort came in 20 minutes when Dennon Lewis’ 20 yards shot was deflected for a corner on the right. When that came in Jackson Longridge cleared with ease. Back to the other end and the same player tested Fasan with a low shot on the angle from the left. A Connolly cut back went straight to the keeper but his cross in 26 minutes was headed behind for a corner. Unfortunately Martin’s cross did not create a chance.

Then McGhee fouled El Bakhtaoui 25 yards out and Pars another free kick from Martin was headed away by the Falkirk defence. The 1077 strong travelling support had been in full song from the kick off and clearly were enjoying the great possession and patient passing build ups that meant Dunfermline totally dominated the opening half hour.

The Fifers earned a corner on the left after a Ryan run and shot was deflected behind but Fasan held Martin’s cross. Next it was Craigen who forced his way down the right channel to execute a shot from the edge of the box that flew over the crossbar.

A 36th minute Falkirk free kick on the right was well defended and it was back on to the attack. Zak Rodden was yellow carded for comprehensively taking out L Longridge on halfway before a Craigen cross was met by J Longridge at the far side but his shot was off target.

The opening goal that was well deserved duly came five minutes from the interval. A L Longridge cross was well met by RYAN at the near post and his well executed header beat Fasan. 0-1

L Longridge forced a 43rd minute corner and Martin lobbed an awkward ball in with the players staring into low autumn sun. The defence survived that but they were having a torrid time. Connolly crossed another that was unconvincingly defended.

There was absolutely no doubt that the Dunfermline players were fired up for this match, it was an excellent first half for them. The stats showed 55% possession but they had nine shots to the hosts one. The only disappointment from the first half, only one goal of a lead.

Half time: Falkirk 0 Dunfermline 1

Falkirk’s Ray McKinnon changed things for the second half introducing Tommy Robson and Marcus Haber in place of Denton Lewis and Joe McKee. The home side reacted to their half time team talk but in 50th minute a L Longridge crooks narrowly evaded Ryan and then an El Bakhtaoui shot two minutes later took a deflection and Faissal had an easy hold.

Next great footwork from El Bakhtaoui on receiving a short ball from Martin, let him in for another crack at goal but Fasan held. Faiss then set up L Longridge but his 56th minute attempt from 25 yards was high.

Two minutes later El Bakhtaoui broke from halfway and with L Longridge to his right and Ryan to his left chose to shoot from 15 yards out and Fasan parried the ball forward for his defence to mop up. In 59 minutes Connolly tried a shot from 25 yards out and he almost notched that sought after cushion but hit the sidenetting.

A Patrick Brough effort on the hour that went wide right was just their second shot of the game. Ruben Sammut replaced Scott Harrison as Falkirk played their last card. Ryan forced a corner on the left but when Martin fired the ball in it escaped beyond the far post.

Ryan latched on to a fine pass from Martin but his 76th minute attempt hit the sidenetting. There were vastly contrasting views from the fans to greet the introduction of Myles Hippolyte in 81st minute.

Muirhead pumped a free kick from the halfway line high into the Fifers box but Hippolyte belted that away. Falkirk won a corner on the left but Brough’s header fell well over the crossbar. Next minute the 86th Hippolyte created a great chance that he struck from 23yards out and it took a fine save from Fasan to keep him out.

The former Falkirk player was denied by the crossbar as he met Martin’s ball from the resultant corner, another great effort. Then in 90th minute the name of Myles HIPPOLYTE was on the scoresheet. The chance was made by El Bakhtaoui who battled his way into the Falkirk box to provide the cutback. 0-2

Total domination from start to finish and by the end the Falkirk fans had switched from booing their former players to their current ones. Mid table now for the Pars and a two week break from the league before Queen of the South come to East End Park.
FALKIRK: Leo Fasan: Aaron Muirhead, Tom Dallison, Scott Harrison (Ruben Sammut 67), Patrick Brough: Jordan McGhee (Tommy Robson HT): Joe McKee, Andrew Irving, Deimantas Petravicius: Denton Lewis (Marcus Haber HT), Zak Rudden
SUBS NOT USED: Lewis Kidd, Cieran Dunne, Mark Russell, David Mitchell (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Rudden (38)

DUNFERMLINE: Lee Robinson: James Craigen, Lee Ashcroft (c), Mark Durnan, Jackson Longridge: Louis Longridge, James Vincent, Malaury Martin, Aidan Connolly: Andy Ryan (Myles Hippolyte 81), Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
SUBS NOT USED: Joe Thomson, Tom Beadling, Ryan Williamson, Danny Devine, Robbie Muirhead, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Ryan (40), Hippolyte (90)

REFEREE: Bobby Madden

NEXT MATCH: Irn Bru Challenge Cup (home) v Alloa Athletic, Saturday 13th October 2018, 3.00pm kick off at East End Park

Half time draw: ticket number 872774 won £1015

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