Stirling Albion 1 Falkirk 0: Bairns beaten in Betfred Cup

Falkirk were beaten by Darren Smith's goal
Falkirk were beaten by Darren Smith's goal

Falkirk were surprised by Stirling in the opening match of the BetFred Cup section B.

The Bairns were denied a penalty with ten minutes left and Bob McHugh - who collided with David Verlaque in the area - was booked for simulation.

It was harsh on the forward but overall, the Bairns were below-par.

It took the Bairns 11 minutes to register a shot, Myles Hippolyte firing a 20yard free-kick well over after Bryan Hodge had studded the Craig Sibbald in the heel.

Prior, Stirling had threatened early, sending crosses in from wide areas one of which Danny Rogers fumbled out for a corner.

There were clear signs of rustiness in the Bairns line-up but not from Sibbald, Hippolyte or McHugh, and the former Livi man went close on 21 minutes after being put through by Craigen. His initial shot was blocked and then the ball became tangled in his feet.

The Bairns got the ball in the net on the half hour mark when McHugh lashed a strike from over 20 yards and Chris Smith pushed it away, but Leahy followed in and stroked through the keepers’ legs only to be flagged offside.

Stirling responded and were unlucky not to take the lead when Darren Smith’s shot was deflected by Danny Rogers by Luca Gasparotto’s block, and it was enough to steer the ball wide of the goal.

But ex-Stenhousemuir man Smith was not to be denied and he rammed a header beyond Rogers from Ferns’ cross on 41 minute to give the Binos the half-time lead.

Straight after the kick-off Falkirk conceded possession and Stirling,should have had two - twice.

Smith scampered clear onto Marc McKenzie’s clever pass but took one touch too many which allowed Lewis Kidd to block and steer the ball out for a corner.

Just three minutes later Ferns was almost in as he chased down Danny Rogers, but the keeper swiped at fresh air but was rescued by paul watson who cleared for a throw.

It wasn’t looking good for the Bairns who lost here at Forthbank on the opening day of the competitive season six years ago, on penalties.

Peter Houston was looking to salvage a draw at least and force the spot-kicks, and pitched in Lee Miller and Nathan Austin for Myles Hippolyte and John Baird.

Immediately Luke Leahy had a header to Craigen’s deep cross clawed out from the top corner by Chris Smith.

The Bairns huffed and puffed - Craigen went close after a clever stepover and Sibbald blazed over - but Albion were hanging on at the back and comfortable when taking possession further up the park.

But the Bairns should have had their penalty and a clear chance to draw level when McHugh was impeded by David Verlaque. That he didn’t was harsh enough, but the subsequent booking was unfair on the forward.

There was no hesitation from ref Colin steven, who then spoke to the Bairns bench afterwards in response to their protests.

Paul Watson threw himself at a late Sibbald corner and it was booted clear by Blair Henderson.

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