DARK, painful days lie ahead for Dunfermline Athletic. They will begin today when administrator Bryan Jackson begins his brutal but unavoidable cull of the club’s playing staff.
Scorers: Falkirk: Taylor (10), Alston (88)
But if Jackson’s unforgiving and unenviable work is to have a worthwhile purpose, if one of Scotland’s most famous old clubs is to see brighter times again, then many more people who hold them dear to their hearts will have to walk down the Halbeath Road and lend them their backing in the next few weeks.
An attendance of just 2,879 at East End Park last night, one of Dunfermline’s lowest gates of the season, provided pitifully weak evidence of a public who are prepared to rally to the cause.
Even allowing for the mitigating factor of a wind chill factor more in keeping with deepest winter than the onset of Easter, it was a turnout which did nothing to alleviate fears over the long-term viability of the club that entered interim administration earlier in the day.
Dunfermline have just three more home league games scheduled, assuming they make it to the end of the campaign, and must hope for a better response from the local community if they are to survive the biggest crisis of their 128 year history.
To cap a dismal day for the Pars, they slumped to defeat against Falkirk courtesy of Lyle Taylor’s tenth minute opener and a late second from Blair Alston. Dunfermline have now taken just one point from their last seven games and may yet be dragged into the relegation equation by any sporting sanction imposed by the Scottish Football League. They are just 12 points clear of the play-off place in the First Division.
The last place you would expect to find sympathy for Dunfermline’s plight is among Falkirk supporters and it would have come as no surprise to the home fans to hear gleeful taunts from their bitter rivals.
“The Pars are going bust – the Bairns are having a party” was the less than charitable chant from those who had made the short journey across the Forth for a fixture brought forward from 13 April as a consequence of Falkirk reaching the Scottish Cup semi-finals on that date.
That the match now took place on the day Dunfermline went into administration was of immediate benefit to Jackson’s requirement to raise as much ready cash as quickly as possible in his bid to see the club through to the end of the season.
But on a bitterly cold evening, with one corner of the playing surface still significantly marked with snow, the response from the Pars support was less than overwhelming.
When the teams emerged from the tunnel to the inimitably rousing strains of Into The Valley, there was a suitably defiant roar from the home fans. But there was a palpable air of despair and uncertainty around the stadium.
It is difficult to imagine the mindset of the Dunfermline players as they went into what for many of them will prove to be their last appearance in the famous black and white jersey.
The human cost of the financial mismanagement at the club, overseen in recent years by major shareholder Gavin Masterton and chairman John Yorkston is about to become painfully apparent.
Some players are already eyeing alternative employment, Andy Geggan having revealed he has shifts lined up on a construction site. Spare a thought too for promising young forward Ryan Wallace who gave up a job at a Glasgow estate agency last summer to pursue his dream of succeeding as a full-time footballer with Dunfermline.
It was Wallace who missed Dunfermline’s best chance of an untidy first half, not that the supporters were of a mind to be overly critical of any of their team’s players in such difficult circumstances.
Taylor’s 26th goal of the season had provided the Falkirk fans with further cause to gloat in just the tenth minute, the prolific striker making the most of some flat-footed marking to glance home Tom Grant’s free-kick from the right with a close range header.
Wallace tried to respond when he cut on from the left and found space in the Falkirk penalty area, only to blaze his shot over the top. The Dunfermline players could not be faulted for commitment, but they were generally outmanoeuvred by the slick and purposeful visitors.
Falkirk should probably have doubled their lead seven minutes before the interval, but this time Taylor directed his header from another precise Grant free-kick too close to Paul Gallacher, the veteran Dunfermline goalkeeper making a fine save to keep it out.
The second 45 minutes saw few chances created by either side on a difficult pitch but Falkirk made sure of all three points with two minutes remaining when Alston exchanged passes with Taylor and drilled a low shot beyond Gallacher.
Dunfermline: Gallacher, Mcmillan, Jordan, Dowie, Young, Kane (Thomson 46), Byrne (Smith 57), Husband, Barrowman, Wallace, Falkingham (Whittle 87). Subs Not Used: Dargo, Hrivnak.
Falkirk: Mcgovern, Duffie, Kingsley, Dods, Flynn, Murdoch, Grant (Weatherston 68), Fulton (Sibbald 74), Taylor, Mcgrandles, Alston (Small 90). Subs Not Used: Faulds, Bowman.