Ahead of a fraught Fife derby, Raith Rovers manager John Hughes had urged his players to have “ice in their veins”. Instead, it was a Dunfermline player who displayed laudable composure as Kallum Higginbotham stepped up to ‘Panenka’ the Pars to victory.
The 27-year-old, inset, produced the one moment of true quality to settle a frantic contest, coolly chipping his penalty-kick down the middle for his seventh goal of an impressive campaign and, in doing so, plunging Rovers further into the relegation mire.
It was an act of audacity made all the more impressive due to the fact Higginbotham hit the headlines by missing two penalties in the space of 60 seconds earlier this season against Ayr United, while Dunfermline famously failed three times from the spot in one match against Dundee United.
“When the pressure is on, Higgy steps up,” said Pars boss Allan Johnston. “Especially after all the penalties we have missed this year, he has shown real class to clip it in. That is the composure you need in a moment like that.
“He’s been working on them after training and it is great to see that paying off.”
While those of a Dunfermline persuasion left East End Park admiring Higginbotham’s courage and technique, a healthy Rovers support have bigger concerns, with their side now only two points off the foot of the Championship.
Once again, they will rue their wastefulness as they slipped further into the relegation mire.
Rudi Skacel, so often a hero on derby day in Edinburgh, was the worst offender, heading meekly into the arms of Sean Murdoch from six yards, while Jean-Yves M’Voto and Ryan Hardie frittered half-chances away.
“If we’d scored first it might have given us something to hang on to,” rued Rovers boss john Hughes. “But to put so much effort in to the game and lose a goal from such a soft penalty – you feel for the boys.”