Peter Houston has held his hands up over the Myles Hippolyte dive row – but slammed Dunfermline’s “unprofessional” fall-out from the incident.
A war of words broke out between the sides following Saturday’s game, where Hippolyte won Falkirk a penalty from Sean Murdoch’s interception in the 53rd minute. Dunfermline players surrounded referee Gavin Duncan over the spot-kick award as the SPFL Championship match bubbled up.
Around 90 minutes after the end of the match, the Pars’ official Twitter account published a clip of the incident online, accompanied by icons of a pair of wide eyes and a swimmer.
And while the Bairns accepted a subsequent two-game ban for the player and the boss admitted replays have changed his mind over the incident, he has criticised the Pars as “unprofessional” in a frank appraisal of the spat on Tuesday.
Houston said: “They (Dunfermline) are so unprofessional in some of the comments and tweets and bits and pieces that I have been shown. Even to their management team getting at the wrong player coming down the tunnel – accusing Nathan Austin of diving. They got the player out later to apologise, but they got it wrong.
“The lad Murdoch and Geggan have criticised Myles but I didn’t see them criticise their own team-mate who did the same thing.
“I can understand the frustrations of the Dunfermline bench, but the reaction of one or two of the players was poor and the comments after it was poor and unprofessional.”
However Houston defended the match referee Gavin Duncan too, and says he will phone the SFA to praise his performance in light of, what he perceives, over the top criticism emanating from Fife.
Houston added: “I never noticed the referee in the first half. I never shouted on at the referee in the first half - and I always do if I think I’m hard done by! The referee – who I think had a very good game – has got one decision wrong in the course of the match. He had three big decisions, one the penalty kick.
“I’m not sticking up for Myles here, we’re accepting it. He has duped the referee into thinking he has touched him.
“When you start to slow it down you recognise the goalkeeper has got the touch. It shouldn’t have been a penalty and I sympathise with the referee.
“Contrary to what was coming out of Dunfermline that the game was too big for him and all that sort of stuff – absolute nonsense.
I’m going to phone John Fleming and praise the referee, because his second big decision he got exactly right – the sending off.
“The third was the Dunfermline player simulating outside our box and trying to gain a free-kick. The referee got it 100% right and yellow carded him.
“The guy has been punished for exactly what Myles has done but though there is a big gap between a yellow card and a two-game ban, we accept that and we’ll deal with it internally but he will be punished, by me.
“We’re a football club who try to play by the rules, we don’t go pee-heeing to other teams. We look after our own selves, and when we’re in the wrong, or my players are in the wrong, I’ll accept it and deal with it accordingly.
And Houston, as well as sympathising with Gavin Duncan, had empathy with Allan Johnstone too, over a previous incident in a clash between the sides.
“We’re disappointed with some of the reactions from Dunfermline, and understand their frustration. We have all had it.
“We took 10 from 12 points against Dunfermline this season. I could suggest that it could easily have been 12 forom 12 all for a dubious penalty for a handball against Tom Taiwo we felt was outside the box and not deliberate.
“We didn’t moan about it then, we didn’t cry like babies, we moved on.”
The Hippolyte fall-out overshadowed a feisty second half where Falkirk overturned the Pars lead through Nicky Clark and overwhelmed their hosts afetr two substitutions changed the game – for the second week in a row!
“The other thing I would like to mention is the phrase it was a game they were ‘comfortable’ in. Seven minutes in the second half, they’re ‘comfortable’ and had a bad decision against them –e got a penalty we shouldn’t have.
“We got another goal, they didnt question how he scored it, we hit the post, the stats show we had more possession, more shots and attempts on goal and more corners. All the stats say we dominated. That’s the way I see it.
“The first half there wasn’t much in it but a good goal by Nicky Clark.
“They went to ten men, they went kamikaze and had we used the ball better we could have picked them off a bit better.
“But for them to say that that decision cost them the game, seven minutes into the second half, it shows they lost their composure, their professionalism and the match.”
Houston was speaking after accepting a two-game suspension for Myles Hippolyte, offered by the SFA compliance officer.
He added: “We will accept our punishement. It was a hard call for the referee. I thought at the time 60yards away it was a penalty. I can understand the referee, and the trajectory of the ball, thinking Myles has nicked it.
“When he flipped over it was a bit theatrical. In a week when it was a focus, I certainly don’t want it coming here to Falkirk.
“Any points we win, I want to win fair and square. When I see it again, it’s not a penalty kick and Myles has duped a referee and that’s why he will get a punishment from the SFA, and from us internally.”
The Falkirk Herald understands the Bairns are also awaiting the referee’s report in relation to incidents at the end of the game as players left the field.