Dumbarton 0 Falkirk 1: Austin header is relief for Bairns

Players and fans celebrate securing 2nd place and a bye to the promotion play-off semi-finals. Picture Michael Gillen.
Players and fans celebrate securing 2nd place and a bye to the promotion play-off semi-finals. Picture Michael Gillen.

Take the week off everyone - we'll need it.

Falkirk put the fans through the wringer on a nervous conclusion to the league season, but did enough - in the 85th minute - to secure second.

That means the Bairns can have a week of preparation and await the winner of Dundee United and Morton's promotion play-off quarter final.

And the fans can regain their breath.

Play-offs were secured weeks ago but there was a real sense of desire form Falkirk's to play for,. And win second spot in the league and earn the bye into the semi-finals. And it was mission accomplished by ten to five tonight.

Nathan Austin's header from close range eased nerves that had frayed through 85 minutes in the Dumbarton sunshine and wind.

Nathan Austin was goal hero - again. Picture Michael Gillen.

Nathan Austin was goal hero - again. Picture Michael Gillen.

The first half was far from a classic, but with the scores blank at Cappielow, the quality didn't matter much.

Falkirk started on the front foot but couldn't breach Alan martin's goal.

The former Scotland youth keeper easily held tame efforts from Craig Sibbald and Nathan Austin and punched a wickedly swirling cross from Aaron Muirhead out before his opposite number Robbie Thomson had faced a shot of note.

But it was the Sons who went closest with Robert Thomson, the home side's forward, clipping a Lewis Vaughan cross onto the crossbar.

Luke Leahy. Pic by Michael Gillen

Luke Leahy. Pic by Michael Gillen

Darren Barr, one of a number of Dumbarton players with Falkirk links was booked for a cynical barge on Austin on the touchline, and Dumbarton were not keen on easing into their summer break. They defended Bairns set pieces with ten men in the penalty area intent on keeping Peter Houston's side out.

And they did.

Second half headers from Peter Grant and Lucas Gasparotto went close, with Martin claiming one and Sam Stanton heading another off the goal-line as the away support cheered, or quietened, depending on the scores being relayed from across the Clyde in Greenock.

Little on the park before the lucky 720 did much to lift them. By the time 70 minutes came around and the score at Cappielow 1-1, each Bairns corner - of which there were many - was met by silence in the away end.

Luke Leahy has a shot

Luke Leahy has a shot

The support though roared on 85 minutes when Nathan Austin forced in a cross from the left wing which secured the second spot and with confirmation coming from across the water of a draw it was all academic anyway - the Bairns were second.

Fans backed the Bairns from the beginning. Picture Michael Gillen.

Fans backed the Bairns from the beginning. Picture Michael Gillen.

Many missed the start of the game, but were all smiles by full-time. Picture Michael Gillen.

Many missed the start of the game, but were all smiles by full-time. Picture Michael Gillen.

James Craigen

James Craigen

It's Falkirk's third time in the play-offs in four years. Picture Michael Gillen.

It's Falkirk's third time in the play-offs in four years. Picture Michael Gillen.