Dunfermline 3 Falkirk 1: Nine man Bairns beaten

Craig Sibbald was sent off. Picture Michael Gillen.
Craig Sibbald was sent off. Picture Michael Gillen.

Falkirk lost the game and their cool in an ill-tempered defeat at East End Park.

Craig Sibbald and

19-08-2017. Picture Michael Gillen. DUNFERMLINE. East End Park. Dunfermline Athletic v Falkirk FC. SPFL Ladbrokes Championship. Second goal Dunfermline, Joe Cardle 11.

19-08-2017. Picture Michael Gillen. DUNFERMLINE. East End Park. Dunfermline Athletic v Falkirk FC. SPFL Ladbrokes Championship. Second goal Dunfermline, Joe Cardle 11.

Lee Miller were both sent off as first half goals from Declan McManus and Joe Cardle handed the Pars second spot in the SPFL Championship

and consigned the Bairns to the same position at the basement.

Falkirk were injury ravaged without Myles Hippolyte and Rory Loy, but they’ll now be struggling with suspensions too after two reds for violent conduct for the two fan-favourites.

Sibbald kicked out while on the ground with Joe Cardle on top of him on the touchline in the 52nd minute. John Beaton showed him a straight red, and the same card was flashed eight minutes later when Lee Miller caught Nat Wedderburn with an arm.

19-08-2017. Picture Michael Gillen. DUNFERMLINE. East End Park. Dunfermline Athletic v Falkirk FC. SPFL Ladbrokes Championship. Lee Miller 18 sent off.

19-08-2017. Picture Michael Gillen. DUNFERMLINE. East End Park. Dunfermline Athletic v Falkirk FC. SPFL Ladbrokes Championship. Lee Miller 18 sent off.

With nine men there was no way back into a game that the Bairns had been blasted out of when all 11 were on the park in an early double from the home side. But the nine-man Bairns certainly tried before being picked off late in the game by Cardle.

It took the Pars just five minutes when ex-Falkirk man Kallum Higginbotham controlled the ball in the middle of the park and sent a well-weighted through ball for Declan McManus to nip in behind the defence and stroke beyond Robbie Thomson.

There was a huge and justified call for handball against Higginbotham for his role in the opener, but John Beaton, the referee, allowed him to continue and set-up the goal.

The Bairns goalkeeper was beaten again six minutes later when Ryan Williamson’s cross was turned in at close range by Cardle who slid and celebrated in front of the large visiting support.

It could have been even worse for Falkirk had Callum Smith’s strike not hit the post with Thomson beaten.

The closest the Bairns came in the first half was through two Tony Gallacher efforts. The first, a tame one after he showed great composure in the box, but fluffed his lines at the trigger point. The second he caught well but Sean Murdoch beat the shot away.

Tempers had been fraying throughout the first half, and exploded in the second. Higginbotham was fortunate to stay on the park for squaring up to Bairns captain Mark Kerr and then grabbing the Bairns captainby the throat as they exchanged words and went head-to-head.

But it all kicked off in the second half.

Sibbald, on his return to the first-team and making his 247th appearance for his hometown club was embroiled in a tangle with Cardle on the far side touchline. He appeared to kick out at the Par as both rolled on the ground and was shown a straight red much to the delight of the home support.

The Bairns were in their red change shirt and the colour was seen again when half-time substitute Lee Miller, on to partner Kevin O’Hara and replace Nathan Austin caught Nat Wedderburn with an arm moments after being penalised for wrestling Jason Talbot.

Falkirk tucked in, kept it tight with nine men and even scored themselves when Tom Taiwo smashed into the top corner with seven minutes left after Tony Gallacher’s shot hit the post.

All hope was lost though when Cardle tucked in the third, in the clear, with two minutes of injury time played.

Falkirk: Thomson, Muirhead ( Grant 46), McKee, Taiwo, Kerr, Austin (Miller 46), Sibbald, Gasparotto, O’Hara ( Harris 80), Gallacher, Watson.