Dunfermline 1 Falkirk 2: Bairns take bragging rights

Aaron Muirhead equalised from the spot for Falkirk. Picture by Michael Gillen.
Aaron Muirhead equalised from the spot for Falkirk. Picture by Michael Gillen.

If Falkirk have their way they’ll retain the derby bragging rights for a while to come – cup games pending of course.

This was a breathless win for the Bairns, who diced with a draw towards the end, after clawing the game back from a 1-0 deficit at half-time.

It was an important win, with Dundee United breathing down the Bairns’ necks in the SPFL Championship table, by defeating St Mirren.

Second place means a lot and could make a difference to the Bairns promotion hopes. And they ended the Pars’ faint chance of post-season involvement with this win too.

Second half goals from {http://www.falkirkherald.co.uk/football-fixtures-results?pstr=player&coid=3&teid=208&plid=212802 and Nathan Austin overturned Nicky Clark’s first half opener and handed the Bairns three points at the home of their rivals who were reduced to ten men.

Neither side had a good first half but a frantic burst early in the second more than made up for the lack of first half action.

Falkirk remain in second spot with the vital win. dundee United also won late on against St Mirren. Picture by Michael Gillen.

Falkirk remain in second spot with the vital win. dundee United also won late on against St Mirren. Picture by Michael Gillen.

In saying that there were chances, but more for Dunfermline and they edged a scrappy first half riddled with mistakes and lumped long clearances from both sides.

Nicky Clark had a couple of good headers saved well by Robbie Thomson, but the ex-Rangers striker finally beat him in the first half with a low drive when Peter Grant was caught claiming for a foul. There was a push on Luke Leahy, but Grant’s turn to ref Gavin Duncan gave the forward a split-second to fire in from the angle of the penalty area.

Only Mark Kerr entered the book in the first half – and he was fortunate it wasn’t a red after a very late challenge on Andy Geggan, catching him on the ankle.

The Pars captain was in the thick of much and exchanged fouls in a midfield tussle with Sibbald, but on the whole Falkirk’s game moved from back to front without much midfield play.

Tom Taiwo. Picture by Michael Gillen.

Tom Taiwo. Picture by Michael Gillen.

That changed in the second half.

The Bairns burst into life after the break and Peter Houston’s replacement of Mark Kerr with Myles Hippolyte kicked off a frantic five minute spell.

Kerr , under-fire from the home support last week, received a standing ovation from the packed away end as he came off.

His replacement changed the tone of the game.

Myles Hippolyte toppled in the box, leading to Falkirk's penalty. Picture by Michael Gillen.

Myles Hippolyte toppled in the box, leading to Falkirk's penalty. Picture by Michael Gillen.

The Bairns had been piling forward since the resumption, and a spell of pressure on the edge of the Pars’ penalty area resulted in a blasted low shot by Aaron {http://www.falkirkherald.co.uk/football-fixtures-results?pstr=player&coid=3&teid=208&plid=212802| Player Stats} that was deflected, and spun towards Sean Murdoch.

The keeper moved to gather, but Hippolyte nipped ahead of him, poked the ball away and then tumbled to the ground.

Ref Gavin Duncan pointed to the spot, the home side and support went apopletic and keeper Sean Murdoch was cautioned in the ramifications.

{http://www.falkirkherald.co.uk/football-fixtures-results?pstr=player&coid=3&teid=208&plid=212802| Player Stats}

, whose shot had created the incident, slammed the penalty low and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to level the scores.

Murdoch was replaced by David Hutton immediately after conceding, as was Callum Morris with Lewis Martin.

Pictures by Michael Gillen

Pictures by Michael Gillen

However they wouldn’t improve things for the Pars as Peter Houston’s change had done for Falkirk

With the Pars still furious at the spot-kick decision, Lee Miller and Geggan tangled on the far touch-line with the Pars captain pushing the striker sparking a pile-in of the majority of the players.

Gavin Duncan kept his cards in his pocket but a minute later his red one made an appearance and ended Lewis Martin’s day after just three minutes.

Hutton’s kick was returned by Gasparotto’s header and John Baird was in the clear. Martin bundled him over from behind just as the Falkirk forward nipped into the box and the defender was sent off.

Momentum was all with Falkirk and James Craigen showed the confidence suddenly flowing throughout the team, volleying the ball off the post after Hippolyte’s free-kick had rebounded off the wall.

More happened in that spell than the entire first half, and another Peter Houston change made another big difference to Falkirk

Lee Miller was replaced by Nathan Austin and he was on just four minutes before he’s beaten Hutton with a header to a Craig {http://www.falkirkherald.co.uk/football-fixtures-results?pstr=player&coid=3&teid=208&plid=227420| Player stats} cross to give the Bairns the lead.

It was the match winner and vital in the Bairns second-placed aspirations, and leaves the side on the southern side of the Forth with the bragging rights until their next meeting – but when might that be?

Falkirk stay second in the SPFL Championship

Falkirk stay second in the SPFL Championship