Alloa 0 Falkirk 1: Tight one at The Recs

Will Vaulks hits the shot that creates the winner for John Baird
Will Vaulks hits the shot that creates the winner for John Baird

Falkirk kept the squeeze on Rangers at the top of the table, after Alloa put the squeeze one the Bairns – quite literally.

This was a big result at the Indodrill Stadium’s tiny pitch, thanks to John Baird’s first half strike over the Championship’s bottom side.

With the pitch dimensions altered, it wasn’t much of a match for BBC Alba viewers, but Falkirk did the business to go 10 games unbeaten in the league and 11 in all competitions.

One of Jack Ross’s first moves as Alloa boss was to tighten the Recreation Park pitch by around three metres on each flank. That meant the closest a player could be from defending a corner kick was the edge of the penalty area. His second was to find a replacement for Michael Chopra who broke an ankle on Monday night against Whitehill Welfare.

But the replacement, Michael Duffy flashed a shot wide of the target within 20 seconds.

Blair Alston screwed a strike from similar distance well over on the eighth minute.

Luke Leahy and Craig Sibbald on the left wing were out-doing one another on the trickery front early on but it was through blunt force that the Bairns scored the opener on the quarter hour.

Blair Alston sent a long corner to Leahy on the left and a ball inside to Vaulks allowed the midfielder -- being watched by Sporting Lisbon among other clubs - side-step his marker and fire a trademark piledriver. Andrew McNeil was down quick but could only parry the strike and John Baird followed in to tuck the opener into the net -- his 15th of the season.

He went close on the 29th minute to doubling his tally with a volley on the turn from 16 yards tipped over well by Andrew McNeil. Lee Miller had a shot on the volley from Alston’s chipped pass that was blocked by Dougie Hill in the box, but it was all dominant play from the Bairns.

Alloa’s first threat since the opening seconds was fired off by Crawford eight minutes before the break. Former Bairn Iain Flannigan -- blink and you’ll have missed his spell in the navy blue -- had made good progress down the left for Alloa and cut back for the former Rangers man to shoot low at Danny Rogers’ goal but the loan keeper blocked with his arm.

The Bairns were in complete control of the first half, but alloa’s half-time tactical switch from their ex-Bairn in charge pushed McAusland up alongside Duffy.

On 57 minutes after a period of Alloa attack Paul Watson clipped a goal-bound shot from sub McAusland over the crossbar and again the Bairns cleared.

It was far from a classic for the BBC Alba viewers in the second half but Blair Alston almost swept a cross in to the net from the by-line on 70 minutes.

Alston was unfortunate not to get a penalty when he blasted the ball at Robbie Crawford’s body and it struck his arm but John McKendrick dismessed the claims.

Late sub Kevin O’Hara saw his attempts for a first goal thwarted by the back of McKenna’s head and the subsequent overhead kick from Will Vaulks went straight to McNeil.

Alloa: McNeil, Doyle, McKenna, Hill, Hamilton, McAusland, O’Brien, Flannigan, McManus (Ferns 56), Crawford, Duffy. Subs: Reintam, Hetherington, Hoggan, Williams, Paun, Crawford.

Falkirk: Rogers, Leahy, Muirhead, Watson, Vaulks, Alston, Baird (O’Hara 87), Sibbald (Smith 73), Kerr, Grant, Miller. Subs: Shepherd, Sinnamon, McCracken, Bowman, Blair.

Att: 1176