Falkirk 2 Raith 2: Stalemate in the snow

Falkirk made do with a point against Raith Rovers, despite leading the Kirkcaldy side twice.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 13th February 2016, 7:16 pm
Updated Saturday, 13th February 2016, 8:09 pm
13-02-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. Falkirk players dedicate Blair Alston's goal to Gordon McFarlane, back at the Stadium for the first time this season.
13-02-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. Falkirk players dedicate Blair Alston's goal to Gordon McFarlane, back at the Stadium for the first time this season.

Peter Houston blasted his Bairns at full-time for their second half show after a rip-roaring opening.

Blair Alston’s opener was cancelled out by James Craigen and a second-half strike from Mark Stewart pegged back the Bairns who were ahead at the break thanks to captain David McCracken’s header.

Kyle Benedictus was red-carded late on for a tackle on Myles Hippolyte which saw the Falkirk frontman leave the Falkirk Stadium limping.

The first half started in a flurry of snow, and of action. Slippery underfoot conditions added an unpredictability to proceedings but Falkirk threw caution to the wind and gambolled forward at will.

Craig Sibbald had the first real chance, slipping onto a Blair Alston pass that seemed intended for John Baird. The attacker held on to possession one-touch to long though and pulled the troigger too late, earning a corner rather than testing Kevin Cuthbert.

But the Raith goalie was beaten on 14 minutes when Alston ran on to a through ball from Lee Miller and stroked the Bairns ahead. The players marked the goal by pointing to the hospitality lounges where programme editor Gordon Mcfarlane was watching for the first time since suffering a stroke in July last year.

The Bairns continued to turn the style on and thrill not just the returning media man but the entire home crowd and in spite of the conditions, but the surface certainly played a part in Raith’s quickfire equaliser just two minutes later.

A corner kick found its way to the edge of the box and was cleared by Blair Alston. But his kick was blocked by James Craigen and the riccochet skidded past the unsuspecting Danny Rogers to level the match.

Undeterred, Falkirk resumed their buccaneering charges forward and almost regained the lead when David McCracken powered a textbook header low at goal from Alston’s cross and Cuthbert was down low to save. The captain wasn’t to be outdone though as he steered another Alston set-piece into the top corner to ensure the Bairns had the lead at the interval.

The latter stages of the first half, with the snow off, settled down and the Bairns were relatively untroubled by the Rovers attack.

It was more of the same from Falkirk early in the second half, with Watson having a flick at goal cleared off the line, but Raith had chances of their own and built momentum. Mark Stewart was appealing for a penalty when his run to meet a Craigen cut-back was blocked by Watson, but he made amends shortly afterwards, racing clear of Falkirk’s offside trap and stroking past Rogers for 2-2.

By the end of the second half Rovers were stringing together the sort of passing passages that Falkirk were revelling in during the first quarter of the match and looked capable of scoring a third with the Bairns losing shape and wilting after a big effort in the first half.

However Raith’s command ended with the red-card shown to Benedictus with seven minutes to go for a studs-up challenge on Bairns sub Hippolyte.

The man advantage though couldn’t be capitalised on by the Bairns, not even when Jason Thomson went off for another bloodied shirt change, reducing the Rovers to nine.

Conor McGrandles tapped a late close-range chance by, Paul Watson struck a shot on the turn over and Rovers hung on for the draw.