Falkirk 1 Kilmarnock 0: Bairns edge advantage of cagey play-off

Will Vaulks scored yet another late goal for Falkirk. Picture by Michael Gillen.
Will Vaulks scored yet another late goal for Falkirk. Picture by Michael Gillen.

Falkirk swept in an injury-time winner again to take an advantage to Rugby park for Sunday’s make-or-break promotion play-off.

Will Vaulks’ piledriver puts the Bairns in the driving seat after a fairly even 90 minutes at Westfield.

Craig Sibbald played his 200th game. Picture Michael Gillen.

Craig Sibbald played his 200th game. Picture Michael Gillen.

Both sides had chances to win the game, Danny Rogers made vital stops to keep Falkirk in the tie and laid the foundations for Falkirk’s fortune in the final minutes.

Vaulks sealed victory with a vital strike in the 91st minute which gave Killie no time to respond, or do anything other than restart the game for John Beaton to blow for full-time.

The first half was, a lot like last week’s semi-final first leg - cagey.

Falkirk eventually edged to the fore as the first half came to an end but there was no goal to show for their efforts.

19-05-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Falkirk Stadium. Ladbrokes SPFL Premiership play-off final first leg. Falkirk FC v Kilmarnock FC.

19-05-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Falkirk Stadium. Ladbrokes SPFL Premiership play-off final first leg. Falkirk FC v Kilmarnock FC.

They could have had a penalty against them too had Tope Obadeyi gone done after a wild sliding challenge by Luke Leahy.

But other than that, and an overhit cross that Danny Rogers, then Paul Watson scrambled off the line, Killie barely threatened.

Falkirk though should have had a goal when Jamie MacDonald spilled Bob McHugh’s blast and John Baird scampered in on the rebound. He made poor connection with the slippery ball and sliced over from a few yards out.

The Bairns’ build-up play was more often than not catching the Killie defence out. The Premeirship side had the strength and the power but Falkirk had the guilt and speed to get behind them.

baird was particularly prevalent in Bairns’ moves, with back-heels teeing up Blair alston twice.

On the left wing Luke Leahy and Craig Sibbald, playing his 200th game for his hometown club were also linking well, but too often the slippery ball was skidding out of possession and frustrating Peter Houston.

But Falkirk had been first to most balls in the first half, and looked the hungrier of the two sides to seize their chance and make the first move in this cagey final first leg.

But Killie’s Premiership quality began to shine through in the second half.

They threatened regularly in an end-to-end second half not quite as frantic as last week’s meeting with Hibs.

Falkirk had Danny Rogers and Craig Sibbald to thank for keeping three Kris Boyd efforts out.

First Sibbald headed a half volley off the line, then Rogers made a point-blank stop to deny Boyd a close-range header. Another, which the keeper scooped out was also flagged offside and he stabbed the Obadeyi effort after the whistle out too for good measure.

Obedeyi went close himself, when Boyd plucked a clearance out of the air and launched a counter attack in one swift move, but David McCracken and Rogers ushered the frontman wide and he blasted into the side-netting.

Falkirk brought Myles Hippolyte and Scott Shepherd on but neither could elicit a breakthrough. Vaulks had the Bairns two best efforts, on blocked by Kiltie and another scrambled wide by MacDonald.

Bob McHugh had a chance from a Vaulks long throw late in the game, but the in-form striker sent an acrobatic effort well over.

One minute was added and in typical Falkirk fashion they burst the net. Will Vaulks fired in Craig Sibbald’s lay-off from the edge of the box and it’s advantage Bairns heading to Rugby Park on Sunday.

Falkirk: Rogers, Muirhead, McCracken, Watson, Vaulks, Leahy, Kerr, Alston, Sibbald, Baird, McHugh.

Subs: Mehmet, Taiwo, Miller, Hippolyte, Shepherd, O’Hara, Gallacher.

Kilmarnock: MacDonald,Addison, McKenzie, Boyd, O’Hara, Obadeyi, Ashcroft, Slater, Kiltie, Hodson, Dicker.

Subs: Brennan, Findlay, Higginbotham, Balatoni, Taylor, Whittaker, Frizzell.