PARS 1 Falkirk 1

ATHLETIC maintained their unbeaten start to League One after a pulsating draw with fierce rivals Falkirk this afternoon.

Kyle Benedictus' first goal for the club with a second half penalty, after Nikolay Todorov had been felled by Liam Henderson, salvaged a share of the spoils for James McPake's side, who struck the woodwork three times.

They trailed at the break to Callumn Morrison's goal for Falkirk, which was a lead the visitors merited after the first 45 minutes.

Dunfermline, though, came out looking a different side in the second half.

A Todorov header off the bar was all they really mustered in the first half, but after Joe Chalmers struck the post with a tremendous shot, Benedictus' penalty 10 minutes after the break pulled them level.

Todorov was to be denied by the goal frame again, striking the post from a superb Aaron Comrie cross, but the teams couldn't be separated as the points were shared.

The result keeps Dunfermline top, one point clear of Airdrieonians, while Falkirk, who drop to sixth, remain four points behind.

Home boss McPake made one alteration to the team that won at Queen of the South last time out.

Kevin O'Hara dropped out of the side, with Lewis McCann coming in, whilst visiting boss, John McGlynn made two changes to his team that were beaten at Kelty Hearts in their last outing.

Juan Alegria and Sean Mackie dropped out, with Rumarn Burrell and Gary Oliver replacing them.

After a minute's silence for the late Her Majesty the Queen, the game started at a predictably frenetic pace, with referee, Chris Graham, enduring the ire of those of a home persuasion early on.

McPake found himself cautioned in only the seventh minute for protesting, after Benedictus had been penalised for a foul on Burrell, who got on the end of the resulting free-kick, which Deniz Mehmet gathered.

The Pars skipper was himself then booked moments later for a challenge on the same opponent, after which he protested in vain to the assistant referee, before the visitors had a great chance to take the lead.

Burrell, who caused Dunfermline no end of problems in the first half, did well to cut inside Josh Edwards on the right and lay it off for Craig McGuffie who, thankfully, shot wide.

The attacking threat was coming from Falkirk, who got in behind the Pars too easily after good play between Aidan Nesbitt and McGuffie, with Aaron Comrie coming to the rescue to block from Burrell.

There was a fleeting glimpse of goal before the half hour mark, when Nikolay Todorov couldn't generate any power from around 16 yards on his header from Joe Chalmers' free-kick, but the Bairns soon struck the first blow.

From a Dunfermline corner, which was calmly collected by keeper Nicky Hogarth, they broke forward on the right through Burrell.

He skipped beyond his opponent before passing infield to Nesbitt. Although he scuffed his effort, the ball fell kindly for Morrison, who had the simple task of slotting away his fourth league goal of the season.

That sent the away fans delirious but, almost immediately, the Pars came within inches of hitting back.

After Chris Mochrie saw a corner cleared, Kyle MacDonald returned the ball into the box from the right, where Todorov did well to get a header in on goal, only for it to agonisingly come back off the bar.

The Bulgarian striker did well to then latch on to the rebound, which was deflected over amid some desperate Falkirk defending.

That, however, was about the best the Pars mustered in the first half, as they were booed off at the break, but the started the second half with more purprose.

A powerful Comrie run won them an early corner, before McCann forced Hogarth into a smart stop with a curling effort.

Chalmers then came even closer, smacking the inside of the post with a tremendous drive, before Dunfermline's good start to the half was rewarded.

Matthew Todd sprayed a fine pass from inside his own half wide right, sending Todorov racing on to it.

The striker did well to race clear of his man and square the ball looking for McCann, only to be fouled in the process by Liam Henderson.

The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and skipper Benedictus was the calmest man inside the ground, rifling the spot-kick high into the top corner to give Hogarth no chance.

After the goal, however, the intensity dropped slightly, with Falkirk regaining a bit of a foot hold, although Chris Mochrie almost took matters into his own hands for the Pars.

The midfielder, who will link-up with the Scotland under-21 squad this week for two friendlies with Northern Ireland, ghosted past three Falkirk players before finding the space to shoot at the edge of the box, but he pulled his effort wide.

The woodwork, though, was to deny Dunfermline - and Todorov - once more in another desperately unlucky moment.

Chalmers played the ball wide right for Comrie, who sent a magnificent low, first-time ball to the near post.

Todorov met it, and did everything right, but could only watch as his effort smashed off the woodwork, leaving him denied again, having hit the bar in the first half.

The chances kept coming, with Mochrie and MacDonald blocked out, although a break at the other end needed a brilliant defensive block to deny Morrison from Burrell's ball across goal.

There was another chance for Burrell from another Morrison centre, but the forward couldn't divert the ball on target, before Henderson tried his luck from range, but shot well wide.

Despite headed chances at either end, which were half chances in reality, the spoils were shared as the Pars remain unbeaten, and top, in League One.

Match stats

Pars: Mehmet, Comrie, Benedictus, Breen (Fisher 90), Edwards, MacDonald (Wighton 86), Chalmers, Todd, Mochrie, McCann, Todorov.

Subs not used: Hamilton, Young, Tod, Sutherland, Little.

Goal: Benedictus (55, pen).

Booked: McPake (7), Benedictus (10), Edwards (90).

Falkirk: Hogarth, McGinn, Henderson, Donaldson, Morrison, Nesbitt, McGuffie (Hetherington 82), Yeats, McCann, Oliver (Lawal 82), Burrell (Kennedy 88).

Subs not used: Martin, Ross, McKay, Mackie, Carroll, Malcolm.

Goal: Morrison (31).

Booked: McGuffie (72), Donaldson (90).

Referee: Chris Graham.

Attendance: 6,670.