Kilmarnock 4 Falkirk 0: No Premier step for Bairns

22-05-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. KILMARNOCK. Rugby Park. Ladbrokes SPFL Premiership play-off final second leg. Kilmarnock FC v Falkirk FC.
22-05-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. KILMARNOCK. Rugby Park. Ladbrokes SPFL Premiership play-off final second leg. Kilmarnock FC v Falkirk FC.

Falkirk’s phenomenal season faltered in the play-off final and they face another season in the Championship after defeat at Rugby Park.

It was in this sunny corner of Ayrshire the Bairns dropped into the second tier after drawing a blank against Kilmarnock. Another scoreless, and ultimately toothless performace from the Bairns consigned them to another year out of the top flight.

22-05-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. KILMARNOCK. Rugby Park. Ladbrokes SPFL Premiership play-off final second leg. Kilmarnock FC v Falkirk FC.

22-05-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. KILMARNOCK. Rugby Park. Ladbrokes SPFL Premiership play-off final second leg. Kilmarnock FC v Falkirk FC.

The Bairns looked a shadow of the side that has impressed so often en route to second place this season, and one which led the tie at the halfway point.

Things could not have started worse for the Bairns with that dramatic last gasp strike from Will Vaulks cancelled out two minutes into the game.

Josh Magennis, back from injury, raced at Luke leahy and beat the Englishman for pace. The Euro 2016 hopeful cut back and Greg Kiltie slammed the ball past Danny Rogers with ease.

It silenced the Falkirk fans who had been raucous for a full half hour before the game began.

It was a top level support from the Bairns faithful in the Chadwick Stand of Rugby Park, but the team’s hopes of matching the support took another hit just five minutes later.

Again the threat came from Killie’s right-wing and a cross was headed across goal by Tope Obadeyi and rammed into the net by Miles Addison.

Falkirk had barely begun and were already trailing on the day and on aggregate.

Playing into the sun caused extra awkwardness for the Bairns as did a dry sticky artificial surface, which went against the Bairns passing style.

The ball spent most of the first half in the air, booted and bouncing high and it suited the home side. They should have had a third when Slater stabbed at goal close in but Rodgers plucked out of the air.

Slowly but surely Falkirk adapted but they were a shadow of the side we’ve witnessed this season.

They did have a penalty shout on the 15th minute when David McCracken was pushed, with both hands, by Miles Addison, but Willie Collum paid no heed to the claims.

Sibbald tested MacDonald with an acrobatic shot to a Baird cross that the goalkeeper held, and McHugh also powered a header wide, but the Bairns trailed at half-time.

Peter Houston made his first move on 52 minutes, replacing Tom Taiwo with Blair Alston as the Bairns chased a goal to send the tie to extra-time.

The opposite almost happened with Lee Ashcroft heading a Gary Dicker free-kick into the ground six yards out, Danny Rodgers pushed the ball up, onto the bar and it trickled over it with Obadeyi ready to take advantage of any rebound.

Lee Miller was next for the Bairns, replacing John baird who had yet again run constantly for the cause, perhaps too much at times, in his desperation to be involved and haul the Bairns to the top flight.

It had all been in vain, for Baird and the Bairns.

It capitulated on the hour with Obadeyi getting the better of Muirhead and cutting back for Kiltie to slam home his second. Killie were 3-0 up, comfortable, but not out of sight.

Six minutes later, they were. Magennis broke from the edge of the penalty box raced the length of the field, dodging a swipe by Lee Miller. The striker was supported by Kris Boyd who’d bundled his way by David McCracken off the ball and Magennis rolled the ball across the box for Boyd to stroke in number four.

Frustration started to get the better of the Bairns who visited Premiership opposition twice in the Cups this season and were turned over 3-1 in Dundee and 7-0 in Dingwall by Ross County.

It looked like another heavy away day defeat but you’ve never been able to rule anything out with Falkirk this season, even with 90 minutes played.

Not this time. There was no miraculous comeback. The Bairns are indeed staying down with the Hibbees as the home fans taunted them, but how many players remain for season 2016/17 after a stand-out second-placed league run, remains to be seen.