Falkirk 2 Brechin City 1: Bairns progress to Scottish Cup quarter-final

Falkirk celebrate taking the lead against Brechin City
Falkirk celebrate taking the lead against Brechin City

Falkirk progressed to the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup courtesy of a narrow win over League One side Brechin City.

Ray McKinnon’s part-timers worked the Bairns hard throughout, but a David Smith goal 10 minutes from time was the difference between the two teams.

Brechin arrived at Westfield in confident mood having amassed a 14 game unbeaten run and looked keen to press forward from kick-off. Alan Trouten played a dangerous ball in the box to force an early corner for the away side, but Leahy cleared easily.

But it was Falkirk who took the lead after 12 minutes thanks to a well-worked set piece.

Blair Alston’s corner from the right was sent over to the unmarked Luke Leahy, who headed a high ball back across the penalty area. McCracken was on hand to easily beat his marker and nod the ball past Graeme Smith from five yards. The whole move took less than 10 seconds and caught the Brechin defence completely off-guard.

Paul McLean flashed a shot wide of the target shortly after but Brechin were not posing much of a threat to Bairns keeper Jamie MacDonald.

Falkirk could have been 2-0 ahead after 31 minutes when Taylor Morgan - making his first home start - burst through one on one with Smith. The striker sent a flicked ball over the diving Smith but it trundled just past the far post.

MacDonald made his first real contribution to the game five minutes from half-time when he pulled off a fine save low to his right to keep out Andy Jackson’s powerful header.

Brechin should have pulled level shortly after the break. A sweeping move up the pitch led to a great cross from Ryan Ferguson across Falkirk’s penalty area, but the in-rushing Bobby Barr could only blaze the ball over the bar from five yards.

The away side kept up the pressure and their persistence paid off after 55 minutes. Gerry McLauchlan was tripped by Peter Grant in the box following a Barr corner and ref John McKendrick immediately pointed to the spot. Trouten made no mistake from 12 yards.

Ray McKinnon urged his part-time side to continue pressing their hosts and Falkirk increasingly looked uncomfortable on the ball. The Bairns did carve out a decent opportunity after 70 minutes when sub David Smith cut the ball back well to the unmarked Morgan but the striker’s first time effort was sent over the bar.

Moments later Morgan went closer but was denied again when his header smashed back off the crossbar.

Falkirk regained the lead after 79 minutes following great work from Rory Loy down the left. The striker strode into the box and forced a great save from the keeper, but the ball fell to Smith who gratefully prodded the ball home despite the close attentions of defender Colin Hamilton.

Brechin continued to press and there was a nervous moment for Bairns fans when sub Robert Thomson went down in the penalty area - only for to be booked for diving.

Falkirk will find out their quarter-final opponents on Monday when world darts champion Gary Anderson makes the draw at Hampden Park.

Falkirk: MacDonald, Duffie, McCracken, Vaulks, Taiwo, Alston (Smith 60), Sibbald, Grant, Leahy, Loy, Morgan (Biabi 89).

Brechin City: Smith, McLean, Hamilton, McCormack, McLauchlan, Fusco, Trouten, Molloy (Storie 70), Jackson, Ferguson (Thomson 64), Barr (McNeil 87).

Referee: John McKendrick

Attendance: 2083