Dunfermline's big city dreams set to come true: tale of two Rangers loanees, Matty Todd, Falkirk nightmare
Leading the table by five points from their bitter rivals in second spot with just ten games remaining, the Pars’ faithful knew just how important a win would be for their title aspirations and a swift return to the Championship. This 2-0 triumph in front of a packed East End Park did Big Country, the band that penned those lyrics emblazoned on the tifo, proud. Promotion is far from a dream now; it feels like reality for James McPake’s men. With only one defeat all season and now an eight-point cushion at the top, they have one hand on the league crown.
A crowd of 9530 braved the bracing conditions in Fife for one of the most eagerly-anticipated Kincardine Bridge derbies for some time. Falkirk had won ten of their last 11 matches in all competitions and arrived in fine form, hopes high that they could storm Dunfermline’s fortress. Pars boss McPake, appointed back in the summer, has yet to taste defeat at home. They are such a hard nut to crack and while the Bairns were fancied by some to do so, the reality is that John McGlynn’s team are not as streetwise or robust.
The first-half action failed to match the build-up. Falkirk, knowing how vital a victory here would be, did start the game the sprightlier of the two, but given what was at stake, the opening exchanges were predictably cagey. Dunfermline were well-organised and pragmatic. Looking to catch the Bairns on the break, they drew the sting out of the occasion and had the best chance of the half, just before the interval, when Chris Mochrie’s effort from distance thudded off Brian Kinnear’s right-hand post.
McPake must have galvanised his team at the break because they returned to the pitch a much more aggressive team. Kyle Benedictus and Craig Wighton both came close before, on 67 minutes, the opening goal arrived. Matty Todd slalomed down the left, cut inside and had an effort turned round the post by Kinnear. From Joe Chalmers’ corner, Rhys Breen rose and headed the ball towards goal and despite the best efforts of defender Blaine Rowe and Kinnear, the ball slithered just over the line. East End Park erupted, cue silver fireworks and a black flare that would have mirrored Falkirk’s mood.
Dunfermline’s tails were now up and on 75 minutes, their second goal arrived. What a mess from Kinnear, whose clearance was charged down by Craig Wighton. Kane Ritchie-Hosler showed great vision in the box to glance a header towards Todd and he rolled the ball home. Some of Falkirk’s fans headed for the exit.
The Pars saw out the remainder of the match comfortably. McPake has assembled a very tidy team for this level. There was not a bad performer but Todd on the left shone and Rangers loanee Ritchie-Hosler, just 20, impressed on the right. His Ibrox counterpart, Kai Kennedy, once of Dunfermline but now on loan at Falkirk, summed them up on the night: some style but little substance. They look booked for the play-offs, stuff of nightmares. Dunfermline’s dreams are likely to come true.