Dunfermline 2 Falkirk 0: Bairns brought back down with a bump

02-01-2018. Picture Michael Gillen. DUNFERMLINE. East End Park. Dunfermline Athletic v Falkirk FC. SPFL Ladbrokes Championship.

Falkirk’s renaissance didn’t last into the new year with a defeat at their old rivals.

Goals from Nicky Clark and Declan McManus brought the Bairns back down to earth with a bump after an exhilirating win over Queen of the South.

02-01-2018. Picture Michael Gillen. DUNFERMLINE. East End Park. Dunfermline Athletic v Falkirk FC. SPFL Ladbrokes Championship.

This was less impressive a performance, but no less assiduous. The Bairns grafted but were bogged down on a heavy pitch, and despite an improvement with a change of shape and Jordan McGhee moving into midfield, they failed to reach the same heights as they achieved at the weekend.

The most impressive aspect of the afternoon was the crowd with 7140 packing East End Park for a game with a bit of background to it.

As well as the typical Falkirk- Dunfermline rivalry, and six red cards shared between the teams in the last four encounters, the backstory of the suspension of Kevin O’Hara

and Joe McKee

02-01-2018. Picture Michael Gillen. DUNFERMLINE. East End Park. Dunfermline Athletic v Falkirk FC. SPFL Ladbrokes Championship.

– both still out of action – suspended for excessive misconduct and abuse directed to Dean Shiels in an earlier meeting this season was an additional factor to the game – the first since the eight and four game bans were handed out to the Falkirk pair.

While they were missing, Falkirk brought in three new faces immediately to the starting line-up. Tommy Robson had already signed from Sunderland and the lunchtime confirmation received for Sean Welsh and Andy Nelson added both to the side which included all five of Paul Hartley’s recent signings.

However there was no change in fortune for the Bairns and they were behind after a quarter of an hour,

Welsh was unable to keep pace with McManus advancing through the midfield on a Dunfermline break and the Bairns defence stood off him. He laced a pass for Nicky Clark to strike a shot that squirmed through Robbie Mutch’s

body and in off the post.

Having kept two clean sheets in his first two games, and then helping the Bairns to a long-awaited win on Saturday the keeper looked less than confident in the first half, and moments before the goal threw the ball straight to McManus before scrambling back to block the resultant shot.

Dunfermline, and particularly scorer Clark passed up further chances before Falkirk really began to find their rhythm, and then half-time called a halt to it.

The Bairns went close but were denied by new Pars goalkeeper Lee Robinson. Several times.

He beat out a low drive from captain Aaron Muirhead and the goalkeeper’s fingertips pushed out a good effort from Louis Longridge

after an exquisite through ball from McGhee.

New signing Andy Nelson, who had made an enthusiastic start to his career north of the border, also shot narrowly wide.

But the break stalled the Bairns’ momentum and it cost the visitors. Having been denied only by the excellence of Lee Robinson, his team-mates doubled their lead six minutes after the break and Joe Cardle was the architecht.

After leading the Bairns defence a merry dance and his twists and turns leaving three defenders in his wake, and two on their backs, Cardle’s threat was eventually snuffed out by Reghan Tumilty

– Falkirk’s best performer on the day.

But it wasn’t over and Cardle swung a cross over just seconds later and with Mutch rooted to his line McManus knocked in the Pars’ second.

The Pars seemed assured in their lead and a midfield scrap ensued for most of the remainder, but the home side could have even extended their lead through Cardle when a 77th minute blast rebounded off the inside of the post and Mutch grabbed the ball on the way back out.

Falkirk too hit the post through Reghan Tumilty

and should have had a penalty when substitute Rory Loy was slammed to the ground by Jean Yves M’Voto.

There was late excitement too when Mutch was caught well out of his box by Ryan who beat the keeper and then crossed for Clark to tap into the empty net but Jordan McGhee was back and slid the ball out for a corner to finish the game 2-0 down.

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