Falkirk 4 Stirling 1: Bairns on easy street

Joe McKee finished last season on scoring form and he began in a similar vein with the Bairns' second. Pic by Michael Gillen.
Joe McKee finished last season on scoring form and he began in a similar vein with the Bairns' second. Pic by Michael Gillen.

Falkirk cruised to their first competitive win of the season over a sorry Stirling Albion team.

There was a significant gulf in class between the Championship promotion play-off contenders and the League Two strugglers from Forthbank, and it showed.

Alex Harris scored on his competitive debut for the Bairns. Pic by Michael Gillen.

Alex Harris scored on his competitive debut for the Bairns. Pic by Michael Gillen.

It was a clear scoreline for the Bairns and it barely reflects the dominance. While Falkirk took the game seriously and approached it in the right way, they could have and eventually did take it easy and still won. Though they were picked off late by Darren Smith.

Falkirk started well and were barely troubled in the first half.

Passes were slipped around the navy blue shirts with ease and Peter Houston would have been more than happy with the performance which had everything but goals.

They duly came though and perhapsd the Bairns should have opened the scoring earlier, electing to make a final pass a few times rather than pull the trigger in front of goal.

15-07-2017. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Falkirk Stadium. Falkirk v Stirling Albion. Betfred Cup group stages.

15-07-2017. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Falkirk Stadium. Falkirk v Stirling Albion. Betfred Cup group stages.

Rory Loy and Alex Harris had both flashed shots wide of Cameron Binnie’s goal before the Bairns opened the scoring through Nathan Austin.

he couldn’t have had an easier finish after Rory Loy hit the by-lien – avoiding the linesman’s flag in the process from a run which began a yard or two offside– and cut in before rolling the ball across goal for Fash’s tap-in.

Scorer turned provider moments later when Austin dropped deep into the midfield play and created the space for Joe McKee to charge forward unaccompanied. Austin picked him out and McKee elected to beat Binnie himself from the angle, rather than give Harris a tap-in as easy as Austin’s.

A third duly followed and was again the result of a blind-side burst and a run from McKee. The midfielder advanced with the ball and had options on either side, Austin left and Harris right. He fed right and the former Hibs midfielder rolled in the Bairns third from the edge of the box.

Stirling looked a sorry side and a mix-up between Ewan McNeil and Binnie almost gave the Bairns another goal on the line but it was scrambled clear.

After the break it looked a procession too with Falkirk playing deep and drawing the Binos out then releasing Austin and Loy in behind the back-line. It was a tactic that exposed the visitors but didn’t bring a direct goal.

One did follow however with the Bairns charging down the right wing. The ball was booted out of the Stirling area, but caught the wind and didn’t cross the touch-line. Aaron Muirhead, after checking he could proceed with the assistamnt referee, ran into the box and teed up Loy whose shot was blocked. The rebolund fell to Taiwo and the shot was sailing wide but sliced out again by a defender to Craigen. Another strike finally brought reward as Ross McGeachie blocked with his hands and ref David Lowe pointed to the spot.

Muirhead, now the Bairns’ penalty expert slotted home for the fourth on 57 minutes.

Peter Houston replaced Austin with Lee Miller after an hour and Mark Kerr not long afterwards, for the impressive McKee. Kevin O’Hara also came on for returning Rory Loy and almost scored first time of asking.

Binnie beat away his angled drive though having rushed out to reduce the angle. The rebound fell qiuickly to his fellow sub Miller but from 16 yards out and with the goal gaping Miller hit the underside of the bar.

The Bairns were cruising and Stirling had a breif purple patch with around 15 minutes to play. Theiur best chance saw Darren Smith head a Liam Caddis corner against the crossbar.

With three minutes to go Darren Smith took advantage of a slip by Gasparotto and slipped in a consolation for the visitors.

In the past Falkirk have struggled against the Binos’ in early season cup clashes, but not this time and they have set themsevles up well for the trip to Inverness next weekend. Their hosts defeated Brechin 3-0 to join the Bairns at the top of Group A.

Falkirk:

Thomson, Muirhead, Grant, Gasparotto, Gallacher, Taiwo, McKee ( Kerr 65), , Craigen, Harris, Austin(, Miller 60), Loy ( O’Hara 70).

Subs: Mitchell, Watson, Hippolyte, Shepherd.

Attendance: 2044