Albion Rovers 2 Falkirk 4: Bairns battle back from lapse

Falkirk fought off a second-half fightback by the Wee Rovers to record a high-scoring friendly victory.

Will Vaulks opened the scoring. Picture by Alan Murray
Will Vaulks opened the scoring. Picture by Alan Murray

Goals from Will Vaulks and Bob McHugh gave the Bairns the half-time lead but a lapse by the visitors allowed sub Callum ferguson to inspire an Albion Rovers resurgence.

However the Bairns kicked back into gear and regained the lead with a similar drive from Vaulks and a header from Nathan Austin, and they held it to go into next weekend’s competitive action on winning form.

There was a buzz about the Bairns following the confirmation that Danny Rogers was returning to the club, but the on-loan Aberdeen goalkeeper was not involved in the match at Cliftonhill.

Craig Sibbald. Picture by Alan Murray

Neither was Deniz Mehmet for the most part of the first half, despite being selected to start, with the Turkish goalie having to palm one corner away and take a couple of shots from Paul Willis and Ryan Wallace in the first half. That would change after the break though.

Falkirk were impressive and led at the interval through a Will Vaulks drive and a header from Bob McHugh. The game was being taken seriously by the Bairns in terms of tackles and team seelction by Peter Houston, who gave fans a look at new Bairns Luca Gasparotto, James Craigen and Lewis Kidd on Scottish turf.

The Falkirk fans were not waiting long for something else to celebrate after the good news a day prior.

Vaulks took just eight minutes to drive a Sibbald lay-off past Ross Stewart a strike that bobbled on the hard surface.

Bob McHugh. Picture by Alan Murray

The best of the Bairns play was focussed down the left-side with Sibbald in particular looking sharp and involved in most of the Bairns’ best in the early stages and he linked well with Luke Leahy.

On the opoposite flank the Bairns are bedding in a new combination of James Craigen and Lewis Kidd and it was from thsi side that the second came. Craigen laid out to Kidd for a cross that Bob McHugh powered past the home goalkeeper.

It could have been three shortly before the interval when Sibbald played wide from a central position to Craigen and raced into the box to meet his cross, but the header went just wide.

On the whole the Bairns had been on the front foot for all but a five minute spell of the first half and that all changed in the second but not as a consequence of a new attack of John Baird and Nathan Austin who were brought on for Lee Miller and McHugh.

Craig Sibbald. Picture by Alan Murray

Early on they threatened but the Rovers soon levelled matters when a double from sub Callum Ferguson, the first with his first touch since replacing Mark Ferry ended Deniz Mehmet’s clean-sheet hopes on the hour.

Rovers had already had a couple of chances early in the first half. Lewis Kidd headed a Mark Ferry cross off the goal-line and seconds later Scott McBride raced clear through on goal and attempted to lob Deniz Mehmet. That’s easier said than done when the keeper is 1.92m and he palmed the ball out for a corner.

The stopper also made a good double save in the lead-up to Rovers’ second, but the Bairns just didn’t clear their lines and were brought level at 2-2.

Sandwiched between the goals, Peter Houston brought on Myles Hippolyte, Aaron Muirhead and David McCracken for Sibbald, Kidd and Gasparotto.

Bob McHugh. Picture by Alan Murray

The Bairns did regain the lead with another Vaulks piledriver from a Baird lay-off with 15 minutes to play, and Nathan Austin added to it with a close-range header from James Craigen’s cross.

They almost sealed a fifth but Hippolyte’s drive smacked the crossbar.