James Craigen stole the show with two tremendous strikes on his first start for Falkirk as the Bairns cruised past Shelbourne. Striker Nathan Austin got the other goal of the game in a comfortable 3-0 win at Tolka Park.
The Bairns started in their usual 4-4- 2 formation with James Craigen taking up the right flank while, Lewis Kidd partnered Will Vaulks in the centre. The back four had a familiar look about it with Aaron Muirhead, Luke Leahy and Paul Watson joined by Luca Gasparotto. Meanwhile, Deniz Dogan Mehmet retained his place in goal and there was a new partnership up front as Nathan Austin linked up with John Baird.
The Bairns started the match at a lively tempo with Craig Sibbald playing a well-executed pass out to John Baird who had his strike blocked. The pressure continued from Falkirk as Nathan Austin came close with a powerful drive which was deflected for a corner.
It took until the 23 rd minute for the hosts to register an attempt on goal, however it wasn’t a strike which called Deniz Dogan Mehmet into action as Sodiq Oguntola wildly fired an effort which was high and wide of the target. It was a different story for Falkirk though with Nathan Austin forcing Greg Murray to get down quickly to gather his low drive after John Baird had cutback for the frontman.
With the interval just around the corner the two teams looked to be heading in level, however Nathan Austin had other ideas. Deserving of his goal, the striker curled an effort into the bottom corner after Will Vaulks’ powerful strike rebounded off the legs of Shels keeper’, Greg Murray. Peter Houston decided against making any changes at the break, however just minutes after Liam Henderson and Bob McHugh were introduced into the action as they replaced Lewis Kidd and goalscorer, Nathan Austin.
Falkirk picked up where they left off as James Craigen quickly added a second goal just twelve minutes into the half. The midfielder did well to fire a low drive into the bottom corner from just over 20 yards out as the Bairns put themselves well in control.
For all the attacking play produced by Falkirk, Deniz Dogan Mehmet produced the goods when called upon as he firstly tipped over Robert O’Reilly’s header from a corner before he tipped Carl Walshe’s strike round the post.
If James Craigen’s first goal was impressive then his second was truly exceptional as he powered up a tremendous volley straight into the corner with 15 minutes to play. Lee Miller flicked a loose ball on to the edge of the box with the midfielder on hand to thump the ball past Greg Murray who in truth had no chance.
The goal margin allowed Cameron Blues, Tony Gallacher and Reis Peggie time on the pitch as Falkirk finished up with an in-experienced midfield. To their credit, it didn’t stop the Bairns’ domination as they continued to press forward in search of goals. Further chances for Lee Miller and Bob McHugh followed as the Bairns looked to add further shine to a well-polished performance.
Falkirk manager, Peter Houston was a far happier man after the disappointment of Tuesday night’s defeat to Bray Wanderers: “It’s all about trying to improve as we go along. Our shape was very good and we played as a team which pleased me.
“We don’t look at results at this moment in time, it’s all about preparation, build up and fitnesslevels to make sure we’re ready for the Stirling Albion game in the League Cup.
“We spoke after Wednesday about ball retention and shape and we worked on that in training. Today that was much better because we let the ball do the work and made the opposition chase it.
“It was nice to see James Craigen and Nathan Austin get on the scoresheet, but it was a good all-round performance from a number of players.”