Dundee United 1 Falkirk 1: Leahy rescues point for Bairns

Luke Leahy celebrates after grabbing Falkirk's equaliser
Luke Leahy celebrates after grabbing Falkirk's equaliser

A Luke Leahy goal seven minutes from time earned Falkirk a point from their showdown with promotion rivals Dundee United at Tannadice on Saturday.

In the end a draw was about right, although it was those of a tangerine disposition that were the more worried supporters after a grandstand Bairns finale.

Falkirk were lucky to go in at the break on level terms, but with a change of personnel and a determination to take United on down the flanks, deserved their valuable point which keeps their quest for a top two finish on course.

Falkirk had the better of a fairly dull opening period, and the ball was in the air far too much for constructive football to be played, despite a perfect day for a game.

United had a great chance after 15 minutes when Luca Gasparotto slipped but luckily Tom Taiwo robbed Thomas Mikkelsen as he was about to strike home.

The luckless Gasparotto stumbled on the ball to give Simon Murray another gift, but he shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

At the other end, Bob McHugh played John Baird in, but his shot was a weak one and didn’t trouble Cammy Bell.

Falkirk’s best effort to date came from Baird, but Bell saved a well-hit shot from 10 yards out.

United’s two giant central defenders towered over the Bairns central strike force of Baird and McHugh, and the high balls were proving fruitless. Baird however did well to try a hooked shot after Gasparotto headed a right-wing corner back across the box.

There wasn’t much between the two sides after half an hour’s play, although United looked dangerous on the break.

A mistake by Myles Hippolyte created another chance, but Gasparotto headed to safety. Aimless long balls were producing nothing for Falkirk, but McHugh had a chance after neat play from Craig Sibbald and Taiwo gave him an opening. Bell saved the shot diving low to his left.

Ray McKinnon was urging his side to press forward more, as Falkirk looked comfortable in possession.

Gasparotto fired a Hippolyte free kick well over, while at the other end, Andreu missed a great chance to open the scoring, but his glancing header was just wide.

Peter Grant wasn’t too far away with a header from a left wing corner from Mark Kerr , and Bell scrambled to clear at the near post.

Grant twisted and turned to try to get a shot in after a corner on the right, but his effort was far too high to trouble Bell.

The opening period of the second half was a carbon copy of the first. Again the ball was in the air far too often, and again Gasparotto slipped to present the opportunity to United. This time Simon Murray made no mistake and gave United the lead in 50 minutes.

The same player nearer added a second moments later when he hit an absolute screamer which came back off the base of Thomson’s left hand post and to safety. United’s defender Edjenguele was booked for a foul as Falkirk rallied, but United almost added a second - only Grant’s interception denied Murray again after a breakaway.

Falkirk were coming back into the game and Sibbald was only inches away from connecting with a right-wing cross but Durnan beat him to it.

However Thomson made a great finger-tip save to deny a goal after Aaron Muirhead had been caught in possession on the edge of the box as United pressed for a decisive second.

Substitute Alex Nicholls was only inches away as his curling right-footed shot ended just wide of Thomson’s right-hand post.

But Falkirk survived and equalised in 83 minutes when Leahy was left all alone to head a right wing free kick from James Craigen past Bell.

The away support came to life and roared the Bairns on. There was a strong penalty shout when Nathan Austin was shoved in the box trying to reach a Craigen free kick, but referee Anderson waved play on.

Bell denied Austin when he was clear through and the penalty shouts were more in hope than anything else. At the death, Sibbald played Scott Shepherd in but his shot came back off the post.