Falkirk 3 Ross County 2: Monday Verdict - Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda
It’s over. No distance left to run. Falkirk will spend season 2019-20 jousting with Peterhead and Dumbarton and in Methil and Stranraer.
Even a win over the league champions in a buccaneering, end-to-end passionate performance wasn’t enough.
Too little, too late.
In the end it was an inferior goal difference to Queen of the South that cost the Bairns. With only three wins from the nine coming with more than one goal cushion, it wasn’t enough. It isn’t enough.
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No one instance can be pin-pointed as having the casting decree on the club’s fate thoughout the season. It’s unravelled over the season, despite Ray McKinnon’s patchwork January. Over the piece they simply have not been as good as those who finished above them.
The crazy finish in Dumfries though, with a late goal that should have been enough for three points cancelled out by an even later one and the team’s creative spark ruled out of later matches seems ever more galling and significant given who ended up ahead of the Bairns.
Indeed as the closest side to Falkirk, the Stephen Dobbie inspired win for Queen of the South back in August that put paid to Paul Hartley’s tenure is another significant not only by the result and by the ramifications, but by the margin which proved important, but not quite decisive in consigning Falkirk to a third tier return for the first time in almost two generations.
Combined though those two matches against the Doonhamers left the Bairns in a right royal relegation battle, which they lost.
It’s all shoulda, woulda, coulda. Ifs, buts and maybes.
The certainty is League One football next term even if only five of the Bairns opponents are known right now.
They went down fighting but the damage had been done.
A more adventurous line-up than usual with two up front brought another win, just as it had at Dunfermline.
Could more formations like it have brought more points and avoidedthe drop?
Removing Zak Rudden from the line-up would have resulted in an even earlier relegation though and it was he who opened the scoring tapping in Aaron Jarvis’ reverse pass beyond rookie goalkeeper Ross Munro.
Jarvis had already hit the post with a header and provided a good foil for Rudden in only their second start together.
Later Shayne Lavery came on and made a big impact off the bench, with Falkirk trailing. They turned it around then and a Ciaran McKenna header then Jordan mcGhee’s waltzing run and curled finish put the Bairns back in front after the Staggies hadgone 2-1 up through Iain Vigurs and Ross Stewart.
Then the fans rebelled - a rebel alliance appropriate for May the Fourth and Star Wars Day - and an alliance of west stand and south stand turned on the club’s leaders and continued their protests outside the ground long after the final whistle.