Meetings between these two sides rarely lack sound or fury, and we certainly got plenty of both in a dramatic second half at East End Park.
One nil up and appearing to be in control Dunfermline were derailed by the double whammy of a controversial penalty award and shortly afterwards a red card for substitute Lewis Martin with Falkirk gleefully capitalising.
When the manager of the side who benefits from a contentious decision confesses he “wasn’t sure”, as the visitors’ Peter Houston did and his counterpart – Allan Johnston – calls it out as a “poor decision” you know you’re into debatable refereeing territory. When the dust had settled, however, it was another valuable three points for The Bairns in their quest to secure second spot in the Championship.
There was little indication what lay ahead in an unremarkable first half, which most certainly belonged to the hosts. They really ought to have chiselled out a decent advantage for themselves by the interval but poor decision making cost them dear. In the end it took dependable instincts of Nicky Clark to make the difference as he latched on to a through ball on the edge of the visitors’ box and struck an angled shot past Danny Rogers.
Falkirk really hadn’t carried a great deal of threat up until then, but in the early moments of the second half referee Gavin Duncan made the decision that lit the blue touch paper. Aaron Muirhead took a pot shot from the edge of the Dunfermline box and as it spun off a home defender Sean Murdoch dived to gather the ball at the same time as Falkirk substitute Myles Hippolyte cut across his path. The contact seemed a genuine collision but Mr Duncan pointed to the spot. Murdoch and Callum Morris were yellow-carded before Muirhead buried the penalty with venom.
Morris’s replacement, Lewis Martin, stayed on the field for a mere three minutes before being red carded for bringing down Hippolyte as he threatened to break clear.
A tumultuous quarter of an hour’s play concluded with the visitors moving in front as Craig Sibbald’s delightfully weighted cross was glanced into the net by the Bairns’ other substitute, Nathan Austin.
Andy Geggan almost snatched an improbable equaliser with a header following a Rhys McCabe free-kick but just couldn’t keep his effort on target.