Ayr 1 Falkirk 0: Bairns out in extra time

Gary Harkins netted the winner. Pic by Michael Gillen.
Gary Harkins netted the winner. Pic by Michael Gillen.

Falkirk are out of the Irn-Bru Cup after an extra time defeat to Ian McCall's Ayr United.

The Bairns had stung the Honest Men late in their league meeting a fortnight ago, but roles reversed as Gary Harkins bundled in a winner five minutes from the two-hour mark.

Peter Houston and Ian McCall would have been forgiven for doing their best Jack and Victor impression on the night Still Game returned to TV screens.

They could have reprised the moaning duo and justifiably so after a dreary, disjointed first half.

Deniz Mehmet made a decent stop to deny Gary Harkins and Scott Shepherd had his tame shot held by Greg Fleming at the other end - but that was it.

The game enlivened in the second half and it was a surprise when the second period

Bob McHugh was unlucky to be denied by Fleming after running in onto a Myles Hippolyte pass.

Then Lewis Kidd flashed a shot just too high of the top corner before Shepherd seemed certain to score, only for Conrad Balatoni to execute a tremendous last gasp tackle to knock the ball away just a handful of yards out. John Rankin gathered the loose ball and shot from a tight angle, but Fleming recovered.

It was all Bairns attacks and Lee Miller earned a penalty off Balatoni on the edge of the box, but to add to the Friday night cup drama, Luke Leahy struck the post with his spot-kick.

Mehmet pulled off the save of the match to stop a Harkins half volley from 15yards and at full stretch, to keep the Bairns in it.

The chances had been there and Hippolyte wanted another penalty with five minutes to go after colliding with Balatoni.

Then a Hippolyte cross along the turf managed to evade three Falkirk attackers as extra time loomed.

Only a comedy of errors had stopped either side making progress and there was a lot less laughter at Somerset than for those watching the returning TV show at home.

Ayr could have had their own penalty when Andy O'Connell was upended by Paul Watson but Alan Muir waved away the claims.

But there were still no goals at halftime in extratime, though Myles Hippolyte almost changed that with a good drive that Greg Fleming beat away.

But then Harkins rounded Mehmet and gave Ayr the lead with just five minutes to play.

The Bairns tried in vain to equalise, Luke Leahy having an acrobatic effort tipped onto the bar by Fleming and Lee Miller's point blank rebound attempt blocked on the line by Nicky Devlin.