Falkirk 2 - 0 Dunfermline Ath: Bairns breeze past rivals

Falkirk's  John Baird celebrates his goal.  Picture Michael Gillen.
Falkirk's John Baird celebrates his goal. Picture Michael Gillen.
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Falkirk prevailed in this meeting of these old foes across the Forth a lot more comfortably than the scoreline might imply. It was finely balanced up to the interval, with the home side holding the upper hand through a John Baird strike, but in the second half Peter Houston’s side assumed near total command on the proceedings.

The result consolidated the Bairns’ aspirations of yet another top-four finish in the Championship and at a stroke all but extinguished Dunfermline’s faint hopes of doing the same. The Pars had been on a fine 11-game unbeaten run going into this one but curiously they gave little impression of being a side suffused with confidence and hunger in a fixture that always means so much to the fans of both these clubs.

“I thought in the end it was fairly comprehensive and that we should have had more,” suggested Houston afterwards. “But ask me before the game if we were to get three points and a clean sheet – I’d take it. I don’t think Dunfermline troubled us too much and if there is any disappointment it’s the fact that we didn’t score more goals.”

The opening 45 minutes were classic derby fare – lots of furious endeavour which didn’t add up to very much in terms of entertainment. Falkirk created the better of the few genuine chances that came along, with Baird crucially stroking home one of them just after the half-hour mark. The Dunfermline defence, which had been solid and impressive up to that point, were guilty of ball watching when James Craigen lofted a free-kick into the box. Lee Miller’s headed knockdown was tidily turned into the net from inside the six-yard box by his diminutive strike partner.

In contrast to what was to come after the break, the visitors did have their moments in the first half with Andy Geggan, Michael Moffat and John Herron all catching glimpses of goal, but apart from an initial flurry on the restart they dropped out of the game with barely a whimper from thereon. Falkirk by contrast moved up several gears and really ought to have helped themselves to a few more before the game was out. Miller looked to have doubled their advantage as he powered in a header from a Myles Hippolyte cross but it curled just a fraction wide of the post.

Only some desperate defending and a degree of profligacy kept the hosts at bay, with Craigen missing a sitter as the ball fell to him at the far post only for his volley to skew wildly over. The sheer weight of Falkirk pressure finally paid off, however, as following a couple of miraculous blocks on efforts by Hippolyte and Baird, the lurking Miller was able drive home a rebound to make it two.

“I thought it was one of our poorer performances of the season,” admitted Dunfermline manager Allan Johnston. “We struggled to cope with Miller’s physical presence up front for them. The majority of second balls they seemed to pick up which is really unlike us. We just never got going today.”