QoS 1 Falkirk 2: Impressive Bairns hang on

Conor McGrandles
Conor McGrandles

Falkirk guaranteed themselves a play-off position with an exhausting win at Palmerston Park.

Second-half goals from Mark Beck and Blair Alston handed the Bairns victory though it was a nervy last half hour with Gavin Reilly reducing the margin and Jonny Flynn being sent off.

It was an action packed second half following a rather tame and equal first half, which is just as well as many Bairns fans missed the first half with roadworks and an accident on the M74 which also delayed the kick-off by 15 minutes.

They missed a fairly even start to the game with few chances but little to get excited about and certainly not when compared to what followed in the second half.

However Queens rattled the crossbar with a Stephen McKenna header on 38 minutes, after Chris Mitchell’s corner.

The Bairns had their own chances though and David McCracken flashed a header across goal and Mark Millar volleyed wide in the first half.

Neither side can claim to have dominated the opening, though some of Falkirk’s build-up play was impressive there was a lack of a cutting edge and end product.

The Bairns were without Rory Loy in the attack, out suspended, and Joe Chalmers who was injured. That gave Ollie Durojaiye and Jonny Flynn a return to the first-team.

Blair Alston partnered Mark Beck up front and should have done better with his front-man’s lay-off but Alston screwed the nchance over.

Michael McGovern was kept busy by Gavin Reilly, and also made a great save to push a Mark Durnan header over the bar before the break.

After it though it was action-packed with three goals, in quick succession swiftly followed by a red card.

The Bairns opened brightly and were soon ahead through Blair Alston after clever work with Conor McGrandles. Then they were two up when Beck ran onto a silly backwards header by Durnan and lobbed Zander Clark.

Falkirk looked to be in complete control and Clark had to fend off a fierce Mark Millar free-kick, but his side pulled one back through Derek Lyle before they got a real boost from the red card.

A Chris Higgins hitch kick rattled the post and Reilly smashed in the rebound. It lifted Queens and contributed to the red card.

They flew forward and in one instance with Iain Russell in full flight on the left wing, he was upended more than 30 yards from goal by Jonny Flynn. Players were retreating, Russell was far from goal and heading for the corner, but Flynn was still sent off. The challenge looked more late and clumsy than cynical.

From then, it was backs to the wall for the Bairns, though twice Mark Beck was caught offisde by incredibly narrow margins and there were a few lucky breaks.

Conor McGrandles looked to have conceded a penalty when he stumbled and fell into Russell inside the box but Crawford Allansaw no malice in the slip and let the Bairns off. They got off again when Lewis Holt smacked the post with seconds ticking down, but the Bairns hung on for the three points that will certainly extend their season, and possibly more. Hamilton drew 1-1 with Livingston which brings them to within two points of Falkirk. Dundee won against Cowdenbeath which means the Bairns keep pace with the top side and remain four points off the summit.

Falkirk could secure at least third spot without kicking a ball on Tuesday when Queen of the South face Raith. If the Doonhamers fail to take a win, the Bairns position will be secured.