It’s been a turbulent time for Dunfermline Athletic over the last couple of months and we were through in Fife for the re-arranged midweek fixture with Falkirk at East End Park to show some support. The game was brought forward due to Falkirk’s Scottish Cup Semi Final with Hibernian in two weeks time.
Following recent reports that the staff were not receiving their salaries, the team’s form has coincidentally faded too, going from title contenders to mid table obscurity in recent weeks. On almost a daily basis more and more information has been emanating from the club in relation to the financial position and very little of it positive.
There was the possibility that the club could have been liquidated due to an outstanding tax bill in the region of £134,000, putting this game in doubt. However, merely hours before kick off the club applied to put themselves into voluntary administration buying them some time to sort things out off the pitch.
The last time I was here was in November 1997 when the away end had an open terracing. A lot of changes have been made since then with the club now having four all seated stands. I have to say that the camera’s don’t do it justice as it looks better when you are physically in the ground than the television images portray it.
We got up here in an hour and parked in one of the local side streets about ten minutes walk from the stadium. I had called earlier to buy tickets over the phone so the first port of call was to pick them up. I actually could have got complimentary tickets for this game but in light of the circumstances it would have been morally wrong in every sense to have taken up this option. Having walked round the perimeter of the ground we then headed to the Norrie McCathie stand which is the home end behind the goal.
The pitch still had some snow on it and clearly wasn’t at its best but it was deemed playable. It was a bitterly cold evening and after all that has been going on at the club I think everyone was just pleased that the focus could shift back to the football, even just for ninety minutes. As we found out earlier in the season when these two teams met, this is a popular game for both sets of supporters though there was a disappointing crowd of 2,879 present, somewhat low given the perilous position Dunfermline find themselves in.
The Pars fielded a strong side for what is likely to be the last time this group of players will be together. They could call upon the experience of Gallacher in goals, Dowie, Jordan, Husband, Barrowman and Dargo who was on the bench.
Falkirk who have Alex Smith in charge following Steven Pressley’s recent departure to Coventry City have a very young side in comparison. The main men for them being McGovern in goals, veteran defender Darren Dods and their top scorer this season, Lyle Taylor up front.
There was very few notable moments in the opening ten minutes of the game until Falkirk got a free kick on the right wing some twenty five yards from goal. Thomas Grant floated the ball in and Lyle Taylor rose highest to head the ball past Gallacher and make it 1-0.
Dunfermline had a decent chance to equalise four minutes later when they had a direct free kick but Chris Kane fired it wide. The home side had a couple of good spells of play but their final ball let them down. On twenty two minutes The Pars had a claim for a penalty when Ryan Wallace broke free from Flynn and although there was contact it would have been a soft award had it been given.
Only a couple of minutes later Wallace was involved again. He picked the ball up on the left hand side and managed to get a shot off but he went for power instead of composure meaning it went over the bar and he really should have scored.
Falkirk had a couple of tame efforts at goal that failed to trouble Gallacher but had a great chance just after the half hour mark to extend their lead. Thomas Grant stepped up to hit a direct free kick from twenty yards out following Husband’s foul on McGrandles but it went just over the bar.
Three minutes later some careless passing in the Dunfermline defence gave Alston a chance but he failed to capitalise and he hit his shot wide.
Gallacher was forced into action again on thirty eight minutes, expertly turning another Taylor header away for a corner following a Grant cross on the left.
Taylor’s tenth minute header proved to be the only goal of the first half and they took their lead into the interval. Dunfermline tried to turn the game around when they replaced Chris Kane with Ryan Thomson.
Falkirk had the first chance of the second period when Grant collected the ball on the right but flashed his shot wide of the post. Some nice link up play by the hosts almost resulted in an equaliser in the fifty fifth minute when Barrowman’s knock down saw Falkingham get a decent strike on target but McGovern saved.
The game then hit a bit of a lull, with play being stopped or interrupted due to petty fouls and both sides giving away possession. There were a couple of free kicks at each end which lacked a decent final touch and there were no scoring opportunities until the latter part of the match.
In the last eight minutes Lyle Taylor nearly ensured the three points for Falkirk when he turned in the six yard box but he hooked his shot over the bar. Two minutes later Taylor was in again only this time his effort was blocked by Jordan McMillan
With two minutes left on the clock the game was effectively over when Falkirk claimed a second goal. Duffie’s throw in was held up well by Taylor who turned, wriggled away from a couple of defenders in the process and headed for goal. Blair Alston who was almost running along side Taylor seemed to cut in and take the ball off Taylor’s toe to crack a low shot into Gallacher’s left hand post and make it 2-0.
As it headed into injury time we made our way up to the exit and watched the last couple of minutes from there. There was no further incident and the visitors claimed the victory as we headed to the car, very slowly I may add having nearly seized up due to the exceptional cold!
The atmosphere was decent during the game as both sets of fans taunted each other with the customary obscenities! The Pars fans were quite upbeat throughout with the majority of the noise coming from the Norrie McCathie stand. It was quite a somber moment at the end of the match watching the Dunfermline players walking off the pitch not knowing if they would have a job in the coming days when the administrators get down to business.
This wasn’t the best of games but it was still an enjoyable visit. The main stand is relatively old fashioned looking but very impressive from outside on the main road. The players tunnel is situated in the corner between it and the Norrie McCathie stand.
Behind the opposite goal is pretty much identical and houses the away support. Running parallel with the main stand is the old cow shed terrace which has been seated in recent years and not used that often. Round the back of it is a car park which is a bit dirty underfoot if it’s been raining!
Dunfermline Athletic are a well known established Scottish club of 128 years. They are suffering like many other clubs in the country through the current recession, but with a lot of work going on in the background hopefully an amicable agreement can be thrashed out with the administrators. I sincerely hope there is a positive outcome for all concerned at East End Park