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DARREN Barr hopes to be roared on by the Falkirk crowd long after Russell Latapy hangs up his boots but the memory of the Trinidadian veteran will still linger long in minds of the adoring public.


Youth product Barr chose yesterday, his full home debut, to net his first strike for Falkirk and mark himself down as one to watch for the future. However, while he has many years to make an impact on the game, the long-lasting talents of Latapy have just a few months to run as he rolls back the years to turn in a series of midfield master classes.

Last week it was Dundee United who fell foul of the wizardry of Latapy, who turned 38 last Wednesday without showing any signs of waning. And while another birthday has passed, it seems he will spend the next 12 months putting the icing on the cake, with many hundreds and thousands dazzled by his enviable talents.

"You say to all young players that they should watch TV and learn from the top stars," revealed Falkirk manager John Hughes after the game. "Russell is one such player but while he's doing well I have told the youngsters to learn because he won't be around forever."

In Trinidad, Latapy is known as The Little Magician which is entirely apt as he has an uncanny knack of tormenting sides with his trickery. Indeed, it took Latapy just ten minutes to stamp his authority all over this match as his inch-perfect delivery from the corner led to the opening goal.

Darren Barr was the profiteer from Latapy's set piece as the youngster raced into the six-yard box to head the ball past a stranded Roddy McKenzie to give Falkirk a deserved lead. If that wasn't hard enough to take for the visitors, Latapy then pulled Dunfermline apart at every available opportunity and could well have added a couple of goals himself to make the first-half lead more emphatic.

A 35-yard free-kick was the closest of his two efforts, with the ball taking an unfortunate turn to go just over McKenzie's crossbar just when it seemed destined for the top corner. For Dunfermline, most of the opening period was spent keeping Falkirk at bay.

A striker's crisis which has sidelined new signings Noel Whelan and Jim McIntyre left them with Mark Burchill as the only recognised forward in their 18-man squad. Winger Freddie Daquin partnered him up front and looked on in agony as his team-mate missed a gilt-edged opportunity to make it 1-1 on 15 minutes.

Stephen Simmons burst down the right flank before delicately chipping the ball into the path of Burchill's run into the 18-yard box. All it seemed to require was a first-time strike from Burchill to level the game but he mishit the ball and the effort went harmlessly over.

Alan Gow's solo run and shot caused Dunfermline further worry, without adding to Falkirk's account before the Pars missed a golden chance to square it up just before the break. The superb Simmons weaved his way into the penalty box but as Falkirk keeper Scott Higgins raced out to narrow the angle, the midfielder's strike ended up wide.

The second half started in very much the same vein as the first did, with Latapy dictating from the middle of the park - without getting the goal his play so richly deserved.

He had a chance to do so on 51 minutes when he left Gary Mason trailing in his wake on the edge of the 18-yard box, only to see McKenzie grasp his low drive at the second attempt to keep the score down to one and leave Dunfermline six points adrift of their neighbours.

"It's a hard league, there's no doubt about that," admitted Dunfermline manager Jim Leishman. "But we'll keep battling away and I hope we can add one or two new faces in the next few weeks."