Dundee United 2 Falkirk 0: Time running out on Bairns

Falkirk are clinging on to their Championship status for one more week, despite defeat at Tannadice.

By David Oliver
Saturday, 27th April 2019, 6:10 pm
Updated Saturday, 27th April 2019, 6:15 pm
Picture: Michael Gillen
Picture: Michael Gillen

The loss was mirrored at Alloa which keeps the ninth placed Wasps in touching distance - but the situation at the bottom remains perilous for the Ray McKinnon's side.

First half goals from Paul McMullan and Rachid Bouhenna took advantage of a defensive vacuum in front of Harry Burgoyne - with little resistance and attracting the ball almost constantly until United had found a cushion.

The Bairns showed a little more heart in the second half and created more chances, but a lack of quality ultimately cost against a strong United line-up. They barely had to work to see off the sorry Bairns who left the field at the end of each half to boos, having been backed by 750 travelling to Tayside.

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Jordan McGhee. Picture: Michael Gillen.

A strong showing from the visiting support backed the team - but were also vociferous in their protests against the club's senior management too.

Hope, which seemed forlorn at times during an emotion-filled afternoon in the stands, returned with Inverness overturning Alloa's lead in the second half to keep the Bairns in with a realistic chance of escaping the direct drop next week.

That requires Falkirk to defeat league champions Ross County and that looks unlikely, but still possible if they can create as many chances and more fight.

Harry Burgoyne came to the rescue for the Bairns several times in the first half but wasn't immune from mistakes as a poor kick-out gave Osman Sow an early opening. A collectors' item perhaps, but Sow couldn't take it and went close later, though Burgoyne reverted to type and had to dig out his team-mates too as United attacked from the outset, dispelling any notion of them easing into the play-offs and avoiding injury and suspension.

Fans were vociferous throughout the match. Picture: Michael Gillen

Falkirk were warned moments before the Arabs opener when Mark Reynolds' header to a McMullan corner was deflected at goal and tipped over by Burgoyne. At the resultant follow-up United again had a man spare and took advantage with Rachid Bouhenna nodding in unopposed.

That sucked the fight out of Falkirk and it was only a matter of time before they added to their lead with Paul McMullan - a Graeme High educated school pupil from Denny in his youth - tucking away Pavol Safranko's cut-back.

United could have and should have added more in a goalmouth scramble but Burgoyne and Jordan McGhee kept out four quick-fire United attempts in scenes reminiscent of Dunfermline's prolifigate performance a fortnight ago, only without the good fortune and play from the Bairns. And the points.

Hero that day Davis Keillor-Dunn spurned a great chance heading over a Zak Rudden knock-down from Jordan McGhee's cross when both or either should have converted. The on-loan Ross County man should have, but failed to, pull the trigger another two times as the Bairns went into the break to a cacophony of boos.

The Falkirk baord were on the receiving end of the fans' fury. Picture: Michael Gillen

Ray McKinnon had four of his seven substitutes as out and out attackers and rolled the dice with Deimantas Petravicius on for Mark Waddington at the break but while the Bairns showed a little more attacking impetus, and kept the ball from their wobbling defence, the quality and finishing just wasn't there and Petravicius would later pull up and be replaced Lewis Kidd. Fellow sub Aaron Jarvis also failed to trouble Benjamin Siegrist.

It was United's sub Nicky Clark who went closest, hitting the side-netting midway through the half, but with the game gone all eyes were elsewhere on Alloa's progress at the Recs and two second half goals for Inverness were more important to Falkirk's status than anything at Tannadice, and seconds from the end the home end erupted as Dundee conceded at Motherwell.

Zak Rudden had the ball in the net in the second minute of injury time but it was ruled out for offside.

Harry Burgoyne. Picture: Michael Gillen
Zak Rudeen. Picture: Michael Gillen
750 fans backed the team at Tannadice, but many made their feelings known. Picture: Michael Gillen
David Keillor Dunn. Picture: Michael Gillen