Falkirk 1 Raith Rovers 1: Three red cards as title hopefuls draw

Charlie Telfer, Kyle Benedictus and Morgaro Gomis were sent off and referee Gavin Ross bundled to the ground in a fiery match at The Falkirk Stadium.

By David Oliver
Saturday, 14th December 2019, 6:35 pm
Updated Saturday, 14th December 2019, 6:37 pm
Charlie Telfer is ordered off in the first half. Picture: Michael Gillen.
Charlie Telfer is ordered off in the first half. Picture: Michael Gillen.

The sides exchanged goals either side of half-time and remain four points apart in the SPFL League One table.

Falkirk played most of the game with less than the full complement of players after midfielder Telfer was ordered off for a horrible challenge on Regan Hendry in the middle of the park.

It was a stormy encounter from even earlier than that 13th minute with both teams vying for points towards a title challenge and it only got more heated as the game went on.

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Gary Miller was lucky to stay on the pitch after bundling over the referee. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Reduced to ten men by that deserved card, for the flashpoint between two players who already clashed and went nose to nose at Stark's Park earlier this season, Falkirk went behind to a Jamie Gullan header in the first half.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Falkirk 1 Raith 1 matchday blogThey'd gone close themselves before the red card with McManus running at his former team and causing problems.

Mark Durnan went close to converting one low driven cross from the former Fife player, and Jamie Watson went even closer knocking the ball away from David McMillan and almost beyond his own goalkeeper.

But after a late challenge from Paul Dixon on Watson, Telfer went one further with a lunge on Regan Hendry in the centre circle and the Bairns went down to ten men.

Jamie Gullan scored for the Rovers. Picture: Michael Gillen.

They could have gone even further down in numbers just five minutes later when McManus went down holding his face after being caught, lightly, by David McKay. Gary Miller sprinted to remonstrate and barged on the surface into referee Gavin Ross sending the official to the slippy turf. Fortunately for the Bairns, and perhaps surprisingly given what was to follow, the midfielder escaped censure.

The game ebbed and flowed with the Bairns holding out but their resolve was broken ten minutes before the break when Kieran MacDonald's cross was glanced beyong Robbie Mutch by Gullan.

The Bairns sacrificed David McMillan for Morgaro Gomis leaving Declan McManus running up front on his own, but Louis Longridge stepped up to the plate and his supporting role helped the Bairns level.

LEAGUE TABLE: Ladbrokes SPFL League OneAfter one jinking run was foiled, the other former Rovers man in the Bairns' attack made a gritty advance up the left and shot at Munro from a tight angle. The goalkeeper pushed the ball away from goal - but crucially not out of play and Gregor Buchanan tried to force in at close range but steered the ball into Declan McManus' path and the striker took his chance.

Gregor Buchanan steers across goal for Declan McManus' goal. Picture: Michael Gillen.

With the Bairns' tails up they pressed forward more and it reaped rewards in levelling first the goals and then the playing numbers as Benedictus was shown a second yellow for a pull on McManus.

Once level the Bairns were all over the visitors and roared on by the bhome crowd buoyed by a hearty performance so far.

Mark Durnan slammed a volley off the crossbar as the Bairns pressed for the winner, but they had to curtail their attacks with nine minutes to go when a loose control by Buchanan handed possession and a breakaway to Kieron Bowie. Taking one for the team Morgaro Gomis, the half-time substitute, pulled the striker down and was shown a second yellow card.

The Bairns finished the game with nine men and two red cards and one point, it could have been more, in both instances.

Lee Miller. Picture: Michael Gillen.
Kieron Bowie was booked for persistent fouling on Gregor Buchanan. Picture: Michael Gillen.