Bairns beaten by Morton

Bairns boss Steven Pressley had a selection headache before today's match with Morton
Bairns boss Steven Pressley had a selection headache before today's match with Morton
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Falkirk lost their second home game in a row as Morton moved to the top of the Irn-Bru First Division.

A Martin Hardie goal in the second half gave the Greenock side all the points and the top spot in an evenly poised game with Steven Pressley’s young and inexperienced side.

It only averaged 19 and a half years old and is believed to be the youngest Falkirk side to have played competitvely, and even younger than Bob Shankly’s and Alex Totten’s young teams.

They were almost behind from the first minute.

Hesitance from McGovern and Dale Fulton almost let Peter MacDonald in and as Fulton scrambled the ball clear he knocked the Morton forward to the ground but Crawford Allan dismissed the claim after two minutes.

By then Falkirk had already tested Derek Gaston when Thomas Grant’s corner was knocked to Blair Alston on the edge of the box and his drive knocked the goalkeeper back a step.

The Bairns deserved a goal with a sweeping move on 11 minutes. Conor McGrandles made a cross-field run to switch play to Kieran Duffie. He beat Willie Dyer for place and sent a low cross that Lyle Taylor flicked just wide.

Taylor had another two great chances before half-time but tucked one wide of the target, and carved another opening to shoot over – to the annoyance of Thomas Grant who had charged into a good position from midfield.

The game was evenly poised by the break, despite Falkirk’s distinct inexperience against the visitors’, and the either side could have gone into the break ahead. Conor McGrandles mistimed a run onto a Grant free-kick and stuffed the ball in at the back post but was flagged offside. A Peter MacDonald drive tested McGovern who scooped the bakll over his shoulder and out of danger.

But another Grant set-piece should have given Falkirk the lead on 52 minutes when he struck a free kick won by Liam Dick into the top corner of the net. Derek Gaston clawed it out, rammed it into the post and as the ball ricocheted between goalkeeper, post and ground, Taylor flew in but couldn’t force the ball over the line.

But that’s just what Morton did on 63 minutes.

The Greenock side had tested Falkirk aerially all afternoon and a free-kick form Williwe Dyer was nodded down by Mark McLaughlin and rammed home by the bustling Martin Hardie from close in.

The inexperienced Bairns defence had held out solidly for more than an hour wuith Liam Dick making his first competitive start at left-back and Stephen Kingsley in a more unfamiliar central defensive role to cover the suspended duo of Jonny Flynn and Darren Dods.

In the end, with Partick and Dunfermline both losing, Falkirk couldn’t haul themselves into contention and it’s the Greenock side who pull clear at the top of the league.