Only 13 miles across the Forth separates the towns of Falkirk and Dunfermline, but this Pars victory proves there is currently a huge gulf between the teams.
Andy Ryan’s first-half strike and the clinching last-minute second from substitute Myles Hippolyte, pictured, earned Dunfermline a richly-deserved win that lifted them into fifth in the Championship table, and hinted at better times around the corner. For Falkirk and new manager Ray McKinnon, this was bleak.
This is a derby which has been characterised by acrimony and unsavoury incidents in recent seasons, but the real rancour this time was directed from the home support at their own team.
The biggest question was how the Fifers’ winning margin was not greater, so far were Dunfermline ahead in every other aspect. They had the players prepared to graft more, to tackle harder and to play more intelligently.
“It’s usually a hard place to come but I thought we dominated from start to finish and should probably have scored a couple more goals,” admitted Dunfermline manager Allan Johnston. “But it’s always good to beat your rivals; you could see what it meant to the supporters and the players. They’re massive games and it was important for us to start putting results together.”
Six half-chances had come and gone for the Pars before they made their total supremacy count five minutes from the break. Louis Longridge, last season a Falkirk player, sent in a sumptuous left-footed cross that Ryan thumped home with a six-yard header.
McKinnon’s double substitution and change of shape at the interval betrayed the poverty of his side’s first-half display. However, after fleeting glimpses of resistance, the second period continued in the same vein and the Fifers threatened four times in five minutes as they sought the key second goal.
They finally got it in the 90th minute and it was third time lucky for Hippolyte. The former Falkirk striker made an instant impact, drawing a superb diving save from Leo Fasan with a turn and shot. From the resultant corner, his overhead kick was touched onto the bar by the Falkirk keeper, but moments later he finally sealed the victory and the points. Faissal El Bakhtaoui burst his way through the centre of the home defence and laid off to Hippolyte, who hammered in from 10 yards out.
“I’m always honest and we were second best,” said McKinnon. “The better team won. That’s just a fact, and we have to live with it.”