Falkirk 2 - 0 Dunfermline AthleticAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Sunday, 26th Apr 2009
In the end, it all went a little flat. After a goal-less first half, Falkirk went ahead early in the second half with a simple goal, poorly defended. A late penalty snuffed out any lingering hopes of glory, but the Pars never looked like doing it with a tired performance on a sub-standard pitch.
The Pars reverted to the line-up had won the semi-final replay at Pittodrie - Jamie Mole came in on the left, Dinger Wilson returned from suspension and Glass from injury. David Graham was cup-tied of course, despite what the media thought and Greg Shields was injured, so the Pars lined up with Gallacher in goal, Woods, Wilson, Thomson and McCann across the back, Burke, Glass and Phinn in central midfield, Bell on the right, Mole on the left and Bayne up front. Greg Ross dropped to the bench, alongside Loy, Muirhead, Kirk, and Paterson.
The Bairns lined up in similar fashion, although with a slightly more traditional 4-3-3, with ex-East End favourite Jackie MacNamara at right back
The Pars kicked off and both sides made a nervous start, Aafjes twice failing to clear properly in the first couple of minutes, allowing Bayne’s a shot which was blocked at close range, before Mole elected to lay the ball back, rather than have a go himself. At the other end Wilson intervened to nod the ball back to Gallacher and Burke was quick to cover when Phinn slipped on the notorious Hampden pitch..
After Phinn was fouled on the half way line, Thomson sent a free-kick into the area, which Bayne won in the air, but couldn’t direct his header, before in the 11th minute Mole had the ball in the net, but had narrowly been flagged off-side seconds before. If the Pars gained any encouragement from this, it didn’t last as when keeper Mallo launched the ball forward it fell to Higdon whose snapshot hit the outside of Gallacher’s right-hand post, with the keeper beaten.
Gallacher got his hands to a swerving Arfield effort in 18 minutes, doing well to beat the ball sideways away from danger, and saved easily from the same player four minutes later when he got his head on a Higdon knock-back. With the Pars needing to assert themselves Woods was too enthusiastic in attempting to tackle Neil McCann and his mistimed challenge earned him a yellow card and potentially ruled him out of the final. After a consoling clap on the head, the Scouser got his head down and concentrated on the job in hand, and the Pars put together a small spell of pressure, including winning their first corner, but couldn’t create a decent chance until the 35th minute.
After Wilson had showed his competitive streak (if not his rash streak) chasing a loose ball beyond the half-way line the Pars took a free kick which Mallo fisted clear as far as Glass, who turned it inside to Burke, the veteran shooting right-footed from 25 yards. Bayne just failed to get his toe on the ball and divert the ball goalwards, when any such late diversion would have surely wrong-footed the keeper.
However the Bairns finished the half on top and Gallacher produced a superb stop, spreading himself well to deny Finnegan from close range when the latter seemed certain to score with 3 minutes of the half left. No goals at half time, with the pitch cutting up badly, and the Pars probably the happier with the score.
Half time: Bairns 0 Pars 0.
There were no changes in personnel at half-time but it was the Bairns who started the stronger. Neil McCann went down rather easily by the corner flag under a challenge from Woods, Dougie McDonald making his point clear without recourse to what would have been a red card, but the referee had no option soon after, first booking Riera for a clear dive at the edge of the box in 48 minutes, and then Scobbie for a wild challenge on Phinn 3 minutes later.
However, in 54 minutes Falkirk took the lead. Austin McCann brought down Finnegan, his namesake Neil fired in the free kick from the Pars’ left, Gallacher started to come and stopped, Nipper Thomson lost his man, and the ball looped off Scobbie’s shoulder and into the corner. 1-0 Bairns.