There’s nothing like a win over your local rivals to make the world seem like a completely different place. It’s fair to say that Falkirk fans have endured week upon week of misery since the beginning of the campaign as their side have sunk to the Championship basement. But after a second-half strike from Zak Rudden was enough to settle this cross-Forth derby in their favour you could be forgiven for thinking the Bairns had won the title rather than just three valuable points.
The signs have been there in recent games that Ray McKinnon is slowly working a turnaround at Falkirk. At the back things are looking a lot more secure and there’s a tangible togetherness about the team now. All that’s been lacking are victories, but yesterday they ground it out and showed some rarely-seen clinical finishing to edge this one – and, of course, they probably wouldn’t have chosen another venue where they would have wanted it to happen.
“It’s been a long time coming,” smiled McKinnon. “I’m delighted for the boys because their hard work’s starting to pay off. Dunfermline are an attack-minded team with good players so we had to defend properly and play on the counter.”
In the Dunfermline camp, they were shaking their heads at another one that got away. They had plenty possession and promising openings but Allan Johnson’s side are seriously struggling in front of goal, averaging less than one a game.
As if to prove the point in the starkest fashion the Fifers managed to squander a truly gilt-edged opportunity after only 40 seconds. Kallum Higginbotham swept in a shot that Falkirk keeper Leonardo Fasan palmed straight to the feet of Andy Ryan. The Pars striker’s feeble shot more resembled a passback than a serious attempt on target.
This set a pattern for the opening quarter of the game. The Fifers looked full of promise and urgency until they got to the final third where it all too often petered out or the finishing was just plain wayward. Having survived a few early scares McKinnon’s men grew into the game, winning a corner here and taking a potshot at goal there.
Mercifully both sides revved it up a bit after the break. There was a hint of what might be in the offing when Paul Paton lashed a volley off Lee Robinson’s crossbar out of nowhere. But the traffic was still mainly flowing the other way as Dunfermline tried to secure a breakthrough with some vigour.
Falkirk dug in though and attacked whenever they could. One of these incursions was to bear fruit as a 25-yard Rudden shot arrowed its way into the bottom corner. The hosts’ attempts to score had shown signs of desperation before this, but now gripped by over-anxiety they never came close to equalising.