Rangers’ late show hurts Falkirk cup hopes

Image: by Gary Hutchison. FALKIRK, Westfield Stadium, Scottish Cup 4th Round, Falkirk FC v Rangers FC.
Image: by Gary Hutchison. FALKIRK, Westfield Stadium, Scottish Cup 4th Round, Falkirk FC v Rangers FC.
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Falkirk were reduced to ten-men and knocked out of the William Hill Scottish Cup by Rangers

David McCracken was penalised for a coming together with Nicky Clark ten minutes into the second half, but though Michael McGovern saved the resultant spot-kick, late goals from Nicky Law and former Stenhousemuir youngster David Templeton hit the valiant Bairns with a 2-0 sucker-punch.

Image: by Gary Hutchison. FALKIRK, Westfield Stadium, Scottish Cup 4th Round, Falkirk FC v Rangers FC.

Image: by Gary Hutchison. FALKIRK, Westfield Stadium, Scottish Cup 4th Round, Falkirk FC v Rangers FC.

Gary Holt’s side gave as good as they got in the first half which had very few clear-cut chances.

The midfield batle between Millar band Ian Black had failed to materialise in the opening half with both teams seeking to use pace to break the other down. Rangers were most dangerous on the break, with Falkirk’s patient passing utilising the runs of Roberts in behind the visiting defence. Neither brought a goal though, though a press from Falkirk on 32 minutes should have. Twice however, Jay Fulton appeared to take the wrong option.

Showing good reading of the game he played a one-two with Craig Sibbald and allowed Rory Loy to make a diagonal run to the left wing, but with Phil Roberts drifting quietly up the right, the son of former Celtic and Falkirk midfielder Stevie fed the ball to Loy of the left with Roberts free on the opposite side. Loy did well in the cornber though with neat footwork and nhis cross to Roberts fell kindly for Fulton at the back. The midifleder should have fired off a snapshot from a good position but took the ball further and instead of a simple lay-off conceded possession to Nicky Law with a misplaced pivot on the ball.

It could have proven costly, but it didn’t. Lee Wallace raced up the other end and was on the end of a Rangers move smothered by Michael McGovern. Lee McCulloch had a volley into the stands five minutes from the break.

The midfield battle between Black and Millar did kick-off right on half-time when the Bairns man left Black prone from a tackle and joined Phil Roberts in the book for hauling Arnold Peralta down earlier in the game.

Bilel Mohsni almost gave the Bairns some hope with a moment of madness, turning back and miscontrolling under pressure from Rory loy on the edge of the box. Loy couldn’t take advantage but Mohsni gave the Bairns another chance by passing over two yards top Jay Fulton.

One of the most successful bets this season has been based on Rangers - drawing at half-time but winning after 90 minutes. Falkirk, similarly, tend to be brightest after the break and a team-talk from Gary Holt. It left a good second half in store, ­­­and it started that way with Rangers on the attack and Nicky Clark twice going close but as a contest it took a hit in a moment that is being contended by David McCracken.

The defender doesn’t believe it was a penalty when he was sent off for denying Nicky Clark a goalscoring opportunity by ref Bryan Colvin after much thought. McCulloch’s effort was saved by Michael McGovern and the follow-up from Nicky Law diverted into the net by the penalty-taker from an offside position.

Falkirk sacrificed the threatening Phil Roberts to fortify the defence with Johnny Flynn, and Rangers made two changes one which almost had an immediate imapct, the other took longer but had a lasting one.

Fraser Aird thumped a powerful strike off the bar with his first touch as Rangers piled on the pressure, but Falkirk defended stoutly, desparately at times, but defended well.

A break from Rory Loy saw the Bairn with the best chance and he rounded Cammy Bell but his cross was cut-out by Seb Faure without reaching Craig Sibbald.

As the time ticked away Falkirk continued to keep Rangers out and the away fans became more and more restless but Nicky Law’s side-foot effort with Michael McGovern’s view obscured.

It floored the valiant Bairns who had thrown rookie Scott Shpeherd on up front. Mark Millar took a pot-shot from the kick-off that slide harmlessly wide.

On Rangers’ next trip up the park, they scored the second through David Templeton.

To compound the Bairns’ disappointment a flare was thrown from the north stand after the full-time whistle which has caused damage to the Bairns’ state-of-the-art woven artificial surface.