Baird star of the show as Falkirk rock Dumbarton

John Baird was the star of the Falkirk show at Dumbarton
John Baird was the star of the Falkirk show at Dumbarton

John Baird was a deserved recipient of the match ball after a classic display of the art of the predatory striker helped Falkirk to a thumping 5-0 win at Dumbarton.

The home side found him a real handful and his hat-trick was just reward for an outstanding performance.

Falkirk made two changes from Tuesday night, and faced a Dumbarton side that included no fewer than three ex-Bairns.

It was one of the trio, Willie Gibson, who created the first moment of danger when he crossed from the left, but Luke Leahy headed clear at the expense of a corner kick.

Falkirk were playing with a strong wind at their backs and took a lead in the fifth minute when Baird took advantage of slackness in the home defence after good work from Lee Miller.

He ran on to the through ball and rounded keeper Mark Brown before slotting home, despite being under some pressure from a Sons defender.

Falkirk were certainly dominating the opening stages, although Dumbarton looked dangerous in breakaways.

Falkirk looked much more direct with Miller and Baird up front, and there was an obvious confidence in their play. Gibson was the main threat down the home left and after tricking Aaron Muirhead, his cross was headed goal-wards by Grant Gallagher. Keeper Rogers saved with ease.

Miller went close from a Leahy cross in 25 minutes and moments later Falkirk increased their lead.

A Dumbarton pass back was intercepted by Baird who was left in acres of space and he rounded Brown to fire home.

Miller had been in an offside position - but not interfering with play - as the ball came through, but under the current interpretation of the offside rule, Baird was not and he was able to play the ball.

Referee Collum was correct but the interpretation of the rule continues to cause some frustration to players and spectators alike.

In 33 minutes Gibson waltzed through the Falkirk defence and shot past Rogers’ right hand post, when he should really have scored.

It was a huge let-off for Falkirk and Gibson was proving a real handful. There was a surprise when Miller went off after 31 minutes to be replaced by McHugh, and the striker seemed to be limping.

Dumbarton had another great chance when Grant Gallagher was played through but he shot wildly over with the goal at his mercy. The Bairns defence looked less than steady as balls were played into the danger area.

Dumbarton were coming more into the game as half-time approached, and there were signs of renewed confidence in their ranks.

Vaulks almost scored a sensational third goal in 41 minutes with a long range effort from all of 35 yards which flew just over Brown’s bar. The keeper’s facial expression showed his relief.

Falkirk were fighting hard to restore their early dominance, but some balls were being over-hit in the blustery conditions.

Baird had the ball in the net again after a great ball from Kerr, but he had clearly fouled Barr in his run- in to goal.

Falkirk made it 3-0 in 44 one minute before the break when substitute Bob McHugh turned well just inside the 18-yard box and fired a great shot low into the corner of the net.

After the break Barr’s early volley gave the home support brief hope, but it was soon extinguished when Baird added a fourth goal in 47 minutes.

The home defence tried to hold a high line, but Buchanan clearly played Baird onside and the striker was left in plenty of space to fire past the stranded Sons keeper.

Manager Stevie Aitken was an unhappy observer and he made his second change within a matter of minutes, bringing on Brophy for the out-of-sorts Craig.

Gibson was booked for a challenge on Baird and the player might consider himself unlucky - the tackle was neither malicious or dangerous and it was his first offence.

Falkirk almost went nap when Baird’s chip from the right just dipped under the bar.

There were loud shouts for a home penalty when Leahy tackled Gallagher in the box and the subsequent award of a corner kick was not contested by those in navy blue.

Falkirk were playing with tremendous freedom and it was no surprise when Blair Alston added a fifth goal in 72 minutes. Baird and Sibbald combined well before a cross from the left just eluded McHugh. It reached Alston who controlled the ball well before firing past Brown.

Ryan Sinnamon replaced the injured Muirhead, as Falkirk saw out the remaining 10 minutes of an entertaining game.

All in all a most satisfactory afternoon on a ground that has seen some recent reverses, and against a side who really are the Jekyll and Hyde outfit in this division. They can play some nice football, but their recent form is pulling them down towards the wrong end of the table.