Raith 2-4 Falkirk: Bairns brilliant win

Gary Holt. Photo: John Devlin.
Gary Holt. Photo: John Devlin.
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Goals from David McCracken, Rory Loy and Mark Millar free-kick added to a Dougie Hill own goal to give Falkirk a rare win at Raith.

The Bairns find Starks Park a notoriously tricky venue and the heavily sanded pitch was troublesome for both sides. But they still produced an entertaining match which swung one way and then the other before the Bairns established their dominance in the second half.

Loy tested Lee Robinson from 25 yards after four minutes, but the strike was well held.

The bairns were in the same set-up to last week, with Johnny Flynn coming into thre back three and Will Vaulks moving to the wing-back. Craig Sibbald also swapped with last week’s sub Phil Roberts.

The Rovers went close when Grant anderson flashed a dangerous ball across the six-yard line and forced Will Vaulks into conceding a corner to settle the Bairns, but they had been on the front-foot for the opening exchanges and had a corner of their own that David McCracken deflected out at the front post.

But the next corner they had brought the opener in the 17th minute. Millar found Mark Beck and his header across goal caused panic amongst a cluster of Raith defenders on the line, and Dougie Hill’s clearance struck Robinson and fell over the line.

Raith almost had an immediate response when McGovern cleared a shot off the line with a a hitch-kick, and then bravely blocked at John Baird’s feet on the line.

But the home side did settle the scores when Anderson again exploited the left-side of the Bairns defence and crossed for Baird to nod in on 22 minutes.

They took the lead with a penalty needlessly given away for a Mark Millar barge on the edge of the box to Anderson. Callum Booth shot the kick straight down the middle and dented Falkirk’s title tilt.

The Bairns should have been level after lovely little impromptu move with Loy, Beck and Chalmers that almost gave Roberts a header then Vaulks the chance at the back-post but he blasted the shot just shy of the post.

Falkirk brought Luke Leahy on to replace Joe Chalmers who had been a passenger at left-back and given a torrid time in the left wing-back position - unorthodox for him.

McGovern made another excellent stop to defy Vaughan on 41 minutes after a mistake by Flynn under pressure from Joe Cardle.

From the kick-off Falkirk went on the attack and found the immedaite equaliser.

Phil Roberts won a throw in on the right and Vaulks’ long throw was flicked on at the front post by Beck and knocked over the line by the surprised David McCracken’s first goal for the Bairns.

It could have been the platform for the visitors to restore the lead but Phil Roberts pulled a counter-attack move wide after great instinctive reading of the game by Conor McGrandles.

However the Bairns got the advantage back on 70 minutes with a wonderful top corner finish by Rory Loy right in front of the Bairns faithful. Mark Beck had raced forward alone, but held play up and fed the ball wide left to Leahy - on as a sub for Chalmers. The Englishman seemed to have dawdled on the ball too long with Millar screaming for a pass, eventually he got it and a neat clipped ball over the top was blasted into the top corner first time by top scorer Loy.

Two minutes later Leahy fizzed another shot just wide of Robinson’s post.

The Bairns were on top but it was a nervous ending Raith threatened by throwing on striekr Greig Spence who scored in the earlier game in Kirkcaldy this season. With Dundee and Hamilton cruising to wins it was imperative for Gary Hol’s side to keep pace with three points as well and Phil Roberts was cautioned for an awful tackle from behind on Dougie Hill and almost talked his way into a red card as the anxiety and inntesity increased.

But the nerves were eased with four minutes to go when Millar won a free-kick off the hand of Hill and took the kick himself which he curled into the net from little over 18 yards.

That settled it for Falkirk to keep pace with fellow title hopefuls and weekend winners Dundee and Hamilton, but McGovern kept the scores down with a great save in the last second to defy Ross Callaghan.