Steven Pressley hasn’t had the easiest of starts to the season and he must be inclined muse on the vagaries of the game as his side got so much right in this derby but then contrived to blow a hard-earned two-goal lead given to them by top scorer Lyle Taylor.
A calamitous three-minute spell near the end allowed their fiercest rivals to claim parity and claw their way to the top of Division. Oh how the Dunfermline supporters loved it and they mocked the Falkirk manager with near uncontainable glee.
This was a compelling contest that fully lived up to its billing as one of the eagerly anticipated fixtures on the calendar and, while Pressley might have been on the receiving end of some criticism from sections of his own support, even the most curmudgeonly among them would have been hard pressed to take issue with his well-thought-out gameplan which gave Falkirk the upper hand going into the closing minutes.
Afterwards he praised his players and insisted his only disappointment was “they didn’t get more out of the game – they gave their lot”.
Dunfermline may have had the bulk of the pressure and created more chances but, by stringing five across the midfield, the hosts frequently choked off Dunfermline’s favoured supply lines down the flanks.
At the other end of the field, Pressley had clearly identified a susceptibility to pace at the heart of the Pars defence and there was a discernible ploy to feed the ball to the fleet-of-foot Taylor and invite him take on the Pars central pairing of Callum Morris and Andy Dowie.
This tactic paid handsome dividends when Sean Higgins threaded a perfectly weighted pass through to the Englishman and he burst clear of everyone to drill a composed finish beneath Paul Gallacher and give the hosts a first-half lead.
Any adjustments made at the interval by Dunfermline manager Jim Jefferies barely had the chance to take effect when Taylor struck again with a neat shuffle to wrongfoot the Dunfermline defence and send another low drive beyond Gallacher.
The Fifers nursed a sense of grievance that match referee Brian Colvin wasn’t being even-handed in some of his decisions and their agitation threatened to spill over when Ryan Thomson appeared to be shunted out of the way as a corner flew in his direction.
They regained their focus, however, and were eventually rewarded as Ryan Wallace cut in from the flank and cut the ball back for Andy Barrowman to slide the ball home from close range.
The comeback was complete just three minutes later when Wallace sent over a corner which Thomson simply bulleted into the net.
It could have been worse for the Bairns as they came under intense pressure in the closing stages but some desperate last-ditch interventions somehow kept the now rampant visitors out.
“At 2-0 down we went for it, put three up front, and put the pressure on them,” said Jefferies. “We knew if we got one back we had a great chance of getting an equaliser. If the game had gone on any longer I think we would have won it”.