FALKIRK are through to the quarter finals of the Scottish Communities Cup after a stunning victory over Scottish champions and cup holders Rangers.
An injury time free-kick from Mark Millar capped a dramatic second half and a fine display by Steven Pressley’s brave young side tht was under-strength missing suspended duo Stewart Murdoch and Kallum Higginbotham.
Farid El allagui had already put Falkirk two goals up but headers from Dorin Goian and Nikica Jelavic levelled for Rangers.
The first half was goal-less and played out in Falkirk’s half with Steven Pressley’s 5-4-1 formation holding out and restricting Rangers to long shots.
The visitors took whatever chance they could to test Michael McGovern and Lee McCulloch forced a good stop after 16 minutes with a dipping drive.
Falkirk finally got in behind the Rangers defence on 35 minutes, when Kiran Duffie ran in from the right and chipped to the backpost. Allagui put the ball back across and Carlos Bocanegra headed out for a corner.
Millar’s corner was head by Falkirk’s Morroccan-Frenchman and blocked, but Allagui had another shot at it and the ball hit Whittaker on the line before Bennett blasted over.
It was the best chance of the mtch so far but David Healy was given one at the other end when Murray Wallace tamely headed back to his own net. The Rangers striker was oisd to shoot when Darren Dods made a fine tackle.
After the break Rangers roared out of the traps. Gregg Wylde looked re-energised for Rangers and raced past Duffie but David Healy couldn’t deal with the pacy curling cross.
Mark Millar then had Alexander scrambling across goal, with a long shot deflected that wrong-footed the goalkeeper and he squirmed it wide.
It was a hint of what was to come. Millar found more room midway through Rangers half and used it to clip a ball over the top to Duffie. He knocked the ball to the backmost and with Alexander poorly positioned Farid El Allagui headed his ninth goal of the season on 59 minutes.
Rangers immediately ramped up the pressure and Steven Naismith drove a Jelavic lay-off off the post and Carlos Bocanegra went inches wide of opening his Rangers account.
The onslaught continued and it was Rangers prolificacy rather than good defending keeping the score in the favour of the home team. But when Lee McCulloch chopped down Farid El Allagui and earned a yellow card it still couldn’t keep the Bairn’s number nine down.
Craig Sibbald flicked a clearance to David Weatherston on the edge of the Bairns box and with that Falkirk were off. Sibbald on the left, Weatherston through the middle and Allagui on the right.
Weatherston played the ball wide to Sibbald and the 16-year-old composed himself to cross to Allagui at the backpost and the Morroccan did the rest.
Rangers looked shell-shocked, but did find the way through, Doran Goian nodding in at McGovern’s post to give the champions hope with ten minutes to go.
A comedy of errors lead to the equaliser. Darren Dods kicked the ball out of Michael McGovern’s hands as the goalkeeper claimed a cross. The goalkeeper regained the ball, but this time Kyle Lafferty kicked it out of McGovern’s hands and crossed to give Steven Naismiuth an empty net to shoot at. A dramatoic lunge by Tam Scobbie and Rhys Bennett kept the ball out but the ball back in was headed in by Jelavic.
But scenes even more dramatic in nature followed.
Steven Naismith tripped Craig Sibbald 20 yards out and Mark Millar curled a free-kick onto the underside of the cross-bar. Neil Alexander pushed the ball back onto the woodwork but the ball bounced down and squirmed over the line.
Falkirk: McGovern, Duffie, Scobbie, Dods, Wallace, Bennett, Weatherston, Millar, El Allagui, J. Fulton, Sibbald. Substitutes: Alston, D. Fulton., Graham, R. Millar, Bowman.
Ranger: Alexander, Goian, Whittaker, Wylde, Papac, McCulloch, Bedoya, Davis, Healy, Bocanegra, Lafferty.
Substitutes: Broadfoot, McGregor, Naismith, Jelavic, Ortiz.