Dunfermline 1 Falkirk 1: Bairns held by penalty
A huge travelling support watched Falkirk battle to a 1-1 draw in the Boxing Day derby match with Dunfermline.
The Bairns were denied a victory through Myles Hippolyte's opener by a second half penalty from Rhys McCabe when Tom Taiwo was adjudged to have handled inside the box.
It was harsh on the defender, and on Falkirk who kept the pressure on the Pars and limited the hosts to chances on the break where they did threaten, but the Bairns' one real attack of the first half had them ahead at the interval.
The Bairns have been poor in recent weeks but gave their tremendous travelling support every effort and reward for their backing in a battling performance, albeit one that lacked quality on both sides. In that sense it was a real blood and snotters derby which left both sides even at the full-time whistle, but kept the fans on the edges of their seats.
Falkirk were disrupted even before the game kicked off with captain David McCracken injured in the warm-up and replaced in the starting line-up by Luca Gasparotto. Everything else though had gone to plan as the visitors headed for East End Park in huge numbers.
The away support was bouncing and singing the name of Myles Hippolyte pre-match and at it again just 10 minutes in.
A clever move from the Bairns had John Baird wide on the left-wing. He fed a clever pass into the path of Tony Gallacher over-lapping on the wing, rather than swing a cross to Craig Sibbald and Gallacher did the rest.He got the better of Andy Geggan, cut inside to the by-line and then squared the ball across the goalmouth for Hippolyte to ram in the opener.
The Bairns had been under pressure, with Denny boy Paul McMullan scampering at the backline disrupted by the captain's withdrawal during the warm-up. He specifically targeted rookie left-back Gallacher but the hope held in the young defender is not misplaced by the Bairns.
However the Pars did come close to a leveller. Incredibly close infact when in the Pars' seventh corner inside the opening 20 minutes, Nicky Clark headed against the bar and then Danny Rogers flew across hgis goal to deny Michael Moffat at point-blank range from forcing in the rebound. It was an incredible stop and ensured the lead stayed intact.
It was one attack from the Bairns and one goal and though the Pars attempted to expose the visitors on the break, the Falkirk rearguard stood firm with some brave and at times desperate defending.
The Pars led the corner count at the interval eight to one, but Peter Houston's side held the important advantage thanks to Hippolyte.
It changed after the break though, ref Euan Anderson baffled the Bairns with several decisions before handing the home side a lifeline from the spot.
Craig Sibbald was booked when Rhys McCabe ran into his path and the duo collided. Hippolyte was bodychecked out of play by Geggan and a throw against the visitor was awarded, then a cross from Joe Cardle deflected off Taiwo's arm and handed the Pars the chance of an equaliser. The arm was out-stretched but it was still harsh on Falkirk and Rhys McCabe sent Danny Rogers the wrong way from the spot, though Muirhead also went into the book for contesting the midfielder's placement of the ball on the spot.
From there both sides fought on this Boxing Day derby, but neither could hold possession for long enough to do much constructive with it, though Falkirk kept the ball in the Pars' half for much of the remaining half hour they fashioned little to trouble Sean Murdoch.
A couple of breakaways gave Danny Rogers work to do but Nicky Clark flashed his shot wide of the post when it came. John Baird and Bob McHugh both fired wide for the Bairns.