Scotland international Robert Snodgrass and a Tam Scobbie own goal helped Leeds United defeat the Bairns at The Falkirk Stadium last night.
Steven Pressley included Rhys Bennett from the start, in a very predictable selection - but he later threw on 16-year-old Craig Sibbald for a baptism of fire against the nPower Championship contenders..
Only Michael McGovern in the Falkirk goal did not have a contract with the Bairns, but Pressley’s 4-4-1-1 was adaptable to 3-5-2 when necessary.
One minute silence preceded the match in respect for Craig Gowans and former Leeds United chairman Lord Harewood, but once underway the opening minutes trundled end to end.
McGovern was forced to pluck a Robert Snodgrass corner out of the air on two minutes, but former Manchester United goalkeeper Paul Rachubka was forced into a good save low down from Stephen Kingsley who ran onto Kallum Higginbotham’s low cross.
It was Kingsley again who threatened on 24 minutes with a floated header to Duffie’s cross, but as The Falkirk Stadium held its’ breath it bounced just outside the post.
Robert Snodgrass then went close, rippling the side-netting with a free kick as the game’s pace finally picked up midway through the first half. The opening had been characterised by the droning chants of the away support. The noise intensiy increased with he echo whipping around the library like Falkirk Stadium.
A crunching tackle from Patrick Kisnorbo - Pressley’s former team-mate at Hearts curtailed Falkirk’s goal threat Kingsley, but the resultant free-kick was easily dealt with and Leeds rced upfield. Billy Paynter took Lloyd Sam’s lay-off and picked his spot, but the ball spun wide of Michael McGovern, and wide of the net.
Bennett was called into action on 33 minutes to clearoff the line when Ramon Nunez wasn’t picked up in the Falkirk box and lifted the ball over the diving McGovern.
Then Falkirk reciprocated with a chance of their own. Higginbotham nicked into the box, should have shot but squared to Alston. He too should have shot but passed the buck to Graham. The striker, prolific in Falkirk’s Academy system, dug the ball from under his feet, over Rachubka but clipped the bar.
It was too close for comfort for Leeds. and urged them into action.
A cross with intent from Nunez on 36 minutes was left by Rhys Bennett and the ball struck Tam Scobbie at the backpost with no chance of getting out the way.
The second half saw a new Leeds side with six changes, while Falkirk brought Matthew Flynn on for Rhys Bennett and replacd like for like with highly rated youngsters Stephen Kingsley off for Craig Sibbald.
However there was more goals to come as Snodgrass rose above Scobbie to head in on 53 minutes.
Leeds changed to an entirely fresh set-up save for Tom Lees as the game became fractured by substitutions again, and Falkirk brought Tam McManus and David Winters on for Blair Alston and Ally Graham.
The game descended into a fitness exercise, but Sibbald almost made it a debut to remember lacing a delicious through ball to Tam Scobbie’s run into the box, but it was flagged offside for in a tight decision.
David Winter was fouled by Leigh Bromby with a minute to go on the edge of the box and a Kallum Higginbotham’s heavy strike was defelcted just wide.
Scobbie almost avenged his first half mistake with powerful header right on full-time but it was well held by Alex Cairns.
Falkirk: McGovern, Duffie, Scobbie, Dods, Bennett, MMurdoch, Alston, Millar, Graham, Higginbotham, Kingsley.
Subs: McManus, Winters, Flynn, Wallace, D.Fulton, Sibbald, J.Fulton, Bowman.
Leeds: Rachubka, Connolly, Kisnorbo, Clayton, Parker, Lees, Snodgrass, Brown, Paynter, Nunez, Sam.
Subs: Cairns, Howson, Bromby, Bruce, Gradel, L.Turner, N.Turner, White, Thompson, McCormack.