Falkirk 2 Arbroath 0: Don't stop believing in the Journey, men - Match Verdict

The Bairns have found their voice again and belief is back at the Falkirk Stadium.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 4:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 4:55 pm
Robbie Mutch was kept busy in the first half. Picture: Michael Gillen.
Robbie Mutch was kept busy in the first half. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Falkirk were roared into the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup to meet Hearts in a primetime Saturday night match next weekend after seeing off their Championship replacements Arbroath in Tuesday night’s replay.

The South Stand song-book that’s been silent for too long has returned just as the team begin to hit the high notes on the park under Lee Miller and David McCracken – and they’ve still to taste defeat under the managerial duo.

Journeymen was a tag given to Bairns players in an opposition scouting report leaked before the first meeting of the sides at Gayfield, but this is a group of players deservedly continuing their trip through this competition and appropriately enough in the words of glam rockers Journey, these are men who haven’t stopped believing after the change in the dugout last November.

Some 11 matches on and with Stranraer to come on Saturday, Hearts will be the biggest test yet, but until then Arbroath had been and the Bairns’ ‘old legs’ passed – albeit at the second attempt – but comfortably in the end.

Once Declan McManus had spun, swung and sent in the opener at the start of the second half there was no question Falkirk had the upper hand and wouldn’t be going out of the competition.

An assured belief, as well as relief, swept through the side and the stands in what ended up being a comfortable end to the evening.

To begin with it hadn’t been, though Falkirk stuck to their task with some dogged defending early on. Blocks and deflections to deny Luke Donnelly and Bobby Linn were required from Gary Miller, Paul Dixon and Mikey Doyle to help protect Robbie Mutch in goal.

Declan McManus had the south stand chanting his name. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Indeed the latter duo of those defenders had been labelled ‘erratic’ in the Lichties analysis while Dixon’s ‘legs are going’. Miller was also labelled ‘a journeyman’. An assured display at right-back and a second-half sprint to deny a Donnelly breakaway from Dixon belied the information on a night when the Bairns turned the tables on the side from a league above.

It was Arbroath who assumed Falkirk’s spot in the Championship after last season’s relegation after winning League One last term and typically for sides finishing 22nd and 23rd in the Scottish football league ladder there was little to separate them.

Arbroath had the bulk of the first half play, Falkirk had the chances but failed to take them with Aidan Connolly and Morgaro Gomis shooting just too high.

But McManus hit the target just a couple of minutes into the second half after another revitalising half-time break. The striker then fed his fellow forward Sammon to prod in the second and make sure of a tie against his, and boss Lee Miller’s, old club next Saturday night.

Morgaro Gomis also shot over. Picture: Michael Gillen.

They might be labelled journeymen outside of their dressing room, but they’re making progress on the road to Hampden. And after 12 games without defeat, and just two goals conceded in five games, there’s no reason to stop believing against Hearts either.

Conor Sammon should have opened the scoring one-on-one. Picture: Michael Gillen.
McManus gave them the lead straight after the break. Picture: Michael Gillen.
Gregor Buchanan suffered a broekn tooth in an aerial collision. Picture: Michael Gillen.
Sammon made amends with the home side's second. Picture: Michael Gillen.
Aidan Connolly was given a standing ovation after two top performances at Westfield. Picture: Michael Gillen.