Falkirk 5 Shire 0: Music to the Bairns ears

Blair Alston turns in number five. Pic by Alan Murray.
Blair Alston turns in number five. Pic by Alan Murray.

Falkirk just helped themselves to five goals against historic rivals East Stirlingshire.

The Bairns are alongside Hearts in the second round of the League Cup after Bob McHugh hit a brace, John Baird and Blair Alston scored one apiece and Aaron Muirhead scored a wonder goal at Broadwood.

Falkirk were forced to the green green artificial surface of Cumbernauld owing to the Tom Jones concert at The Falkirk Stadium tomorrow night.

But despite the relocation the great and the good of Scottish football were in attendance, or so it seemed.

Bosses from Falkirk’s Championship rivals Dumbarton, Queen of the South, Morton cast their eye over the Bairns as did Hibs boss Alan Stubbs and Rangers assistant Davie Weir. Berwick boss Colin Cameron watched his League Two rivals, alongside his former Raith Rovers team-mate Stevie Crawford. Even SPFL chief Neil Doncaster was at Broadwood to watch the tie, as did ex-Bairns Kyle Turnbull, Mark Millar and Craig McPherson.

The goal they witnessed in the first half they, and the 881-strong crowd, will struggle to better this season.

On 19 minutes Aaron Muirhead struck a stunning right-foot volley off the underside of the crossbar to send the Bairns ahead. The defender strode onto the headed clearance to Blair alston’s free kick and thumped the ball into the net.

The match had been fairly even until that point with Shire creating the two most dangerous chances before the stunner.

Then Falkirk upped the ante and struck the woodwork another two times with David Smith having a blast tipped onto the bar and Blair Alston side-footed against the post five minutes from the break.

Before the goal though Shire had threatened and Max Wright should have opened the scoring but headed Lloyd Kinnaird’s cross into the side netting. Paul Watson had to head another cross, this time from Billy Vidler, out from the backpost with the Shire pressing Danny Rogers’ goal.

After the break, and after being pegged back in their own half for the majority of the first half it didn’t get any better for Shire.

They weren’t overwhelmed by any means but they were punished by Falkirk’s attack.

The Bairns made it two on 58 minutes when Blair Alston’s miscontrol spun nicely for John Baird and he lobbed Richie Barnard for the second.

Craig Tully’s men came close when Michael Wallace blasted against Max Wright in the six-yard area and again when Wright had a near post flick to Nathan Shepherd’s cross that was cleared for a corner.

But while Falkirk’s goals spurred Shire’s frontmen to find a response they dented the defence’s - and particularly the goalkeeper’s - confidence.

Bob McHugh put Falkirk further ahead with a shot at goal deflected by Billy Vidler beyond Barnard and seconds later McHugh scored one of his own when Barnard stayed on his line and his defence watched the ball bounce around their area and McHugh stabbed it into the top corner.

It was 5-0 Falkirk on 82 minutes when Alston rounded off the scoring with a typically well-timed run and slipped the ball between Barnard’s legs.

Falkirk: Rogers, Muirhead, Leahy, Vaulks, Alston, Baird (Shepherd 72), Sibbald, P. Grant, Smith (Cooper 81), McHugh, Watson.

Shire: Barnard, Kinnaird, Greene, Shepherd, Tully Donaldson, Wallace (Roy 69), McCabe, Wright, Faulds, Vidler (Deans 83).

BOTH THE SHIRE AND FALKIRK ARE FEATURED IN THIS WEEK’S ‘GAME ON’ FOOTBALL PULL-OUT. THE DEFINITIVE 16-PAGE PREVIEW TO THE LEAGUE SEASON IN THE FALKIRK HERALD ON THURSDAY.