Ayr 0 Falkirk 1 : Ayr wetter, Bairns better

Craigen hit the opener which proved to be the winner
Craigen hit the opener which proved to be the winner

James Craigen inspired Falkirk to a hard-fought win at soaking Somerset Park.

The pre-match stat was Ayr had never experienced a win on November 19 - according to a listener to BBC Scotland's Off the Ball programme - and so that particular streak continues.

The opening goal was scored by James Craigen. Pic by Michael Gillen

The opening goal was scored by James Craigen. Pic by Michael Gillen

It was nice weather for ducks, and clearly to break ducks too, as Craigen struck his first competitive goal in the navy blue, and a fine one it was too to give Falkirk a first win in five matches.

Falkirk's wingers Craig Sibbald and Craigen appeared to be under instruction to get beyond forwards John Baird and Lee Miller early on and it reaped great rewards when Craigen slammed them ahead.

He knocked on a long ball from the back to Baird who cleverly backheeled back to the ex-Partick man on the left wing. Craigen stretched his legs and then sent a pass across field into a vast space which Aaron Muirhead was sprinting into. The right-back reached the pass and sent a low return into the box where Craigen had continued running and he slammed in from the 16 yards to give the Bairns a terrific lead.

The forward play was excellent in some really poor conditions. Hail and heavy rain pounded the park in the first half, but despite the monsoon the Bairns lit up the gloomy spell.

Another slick link-up on the now slippier pitch between Baird, Miller and orchestrated by Sibbald was just too far ahead of Craigen and Muirhead or Ayr would have been prised apart again.

There was plenty to give the Falkirk fans - undercover in the away terrace - to sing about and they did, although Ayr went close twice as the first half edged towards half-time.

Crosses from both wings, from full-backs Nicky Devlin and Paddy Boyle flashed across Danny Rogers' goalmouth and each was close to being bundled in by Craig McGuffie and Kevin Nisbet respectively.

However the Bairns took a merited lead into half-time, with David McCracken repelling most aerial threats at the back and the front foursome, which slipped into a three-strong support and one main figurehead later in the half, giving Ayr plenty of problems and backed by the solid midfield base of John Rankin and Mark Kerr.

Birthday boy Luke Leahy had had two volleys, one full to a Kerr corner and one on the bounce from the rebound, blocked in the first half and he started the second half well but Ayr began to press hard for the equaliser as darkness fell.

But they were almost caught on the break and by a freak goal as a Baird cross lofted over everyone in the box and clipped the inside of the post.

At the other end Harkins flashed a shot wide of Rogers' goal from 20yards.

But the Bairns almost scored again when Craigen drove out of his own half, fed the ball wide to Miller and sprinted into the return and prodded beyond Greg Fleming for his second, only to see the ball hit the inside of the sane post Baird struck minutes earlier and Boyle clear the danger.

Craigen turned provider for sub Myles Hippolyte - on for Sibbald - but the shot spun wide.

Ayr were claiming for a penalty with 15 minutes to go as Crawford tangled with McCracken on the edge of the area. With the defender's hands full of white Ayr shirt and the home player going down ref Gavin Duncan waved away the protests.

As rain poured towards the end of the game Ayr poured forward but not enough to pull a point back and nothing to dampen Bairns spirits.

Attendance: 1414