Falkirk display clinical finishing from close range

Interim co-boss Lee Miller is impressed by what he sees (picture by Michael Gillen)
Interim co-boss Lee Miller is impressed by what he sees (picture by Michael Gillen)

Falkirk 3, Stranraer 0

Falkirk’s players on Saturday brought a fairly clinical first home league win to the door of interim co-managers Lee Miller and David McCracken.

Mark Durnan rises to head home the third Falkirk goal (picture by Michael Gillen)

Mark Durnan rises to head home the third Falkirk goal (picture by Michael Gillen)

The ability to convert chances was a crucial difference, with the Bairns proving particularly effective at converting accurate crosses into the six-yard box.

Stranraer had a few opportunities of their own and seemed a little unfortunate to be two goals down at half time.

But they were seen little as an attacking threat for much of the second half, as Falkirk knocked the ball around with confidence and made sure Stevie Farrell’s men could not repeat the surprise factor of their Scottish Cup win over Dunfermline.

There was little to separate the sides in the opening quarter of an hour. Stranraer‘s Andrew Stirling threatened by nutmegging Mark Durnan and advancing on goal but the through pass was gathered in time by Robbie Mutch.

Michael Doyle collects an excellent Paul Dixon cross to make it 2-0 to the hosts (picture by Michael Gillen).

Michael Doyle collects an excellent Paul Dixon cross to make it 2-0 to the hosts (picture by Michael Gillen).

Shortly afterwards, Lewis Toshney was back to block a dangerous-looking shot by Stirling, while at the opposite end, Morgaro Gomis fired wide when the ball unexpectedly came to him after Stranraer appeared to have halted a Falkirk charge.

The breakthrough finally came after 18 minutes - and it was Falkirk who made it. Gary Miller floated a high cross over from the right and Declan McManus rose expertly to head it downwards and past keeper Max Currie and into the net.

The home team gradually made more advances but, on one or two occasions, were lacking someone in the box to apply the finishing touch. Louis Longridge ended up passing straight to Stranraer’s Connor McManus in one instance, bringing a very promising attack to a disappointing conclusion. Stranraer headed up the pitch and had an attempt of their own, forcing Mutch to beat away a long-range shot.

Five minutes from half time, Falkirk gave themselves some very important breathing space with a second goal. McManus and Dixon linked well with a move on the left flank and Dixon managed to send in a beautifully weighted cross. Michael Doyle was there and gave Currie little hope with a shot from close in.

A stylish and skilful downward header gives Declan McManus Falkirk's opening goal (picture by Michael Gillen).

A stylish and skilful downward header gives Declan McManus Falkirk's opening goal (picture by Michael Gillen).

Falkirk attacked with a little more vigour in the second period. Toshney was on the end of a corner kick but the ball travelled across the face of the goal, and wide, while Sammon and McManus almost managed to work a slick one-two inside the box.

McManus sent another header towards the target in 53 minutes but Currie gathered easily.

There was another anxious moment for Stranraer when Scott Robertson unluckily sliced an attempted clearance and almost presented Sammon with a great opportunity but Currie foiled him as he moved in on goal.

In 63 minutes, Gomis had a bit of time and space outside the box and curled a neat left-foot shot just a few feet wide.

A third and probably deserved goal arrived for Falkirk after 70 minutes but, annoyingly for Stranraer, it was a classic case of losing a goal from a basic set piece.

Falkirk had received a number of corners and the latest was sent over by substitute Charlie Telfer, with Durnan ascending unchallenged to head into the net.

Stranraer mounted a few advances after this and had one or two forays on goal but Falkirk’s advantage never looked in danger.

McManus was controversially booked by referee Steven Reid after he rejoined the action, following treatment on the sidelines for injury.

Falkirk – Mutch, Doyle, Dixon, Buchanan, Durnan, Gomis (McShane 81), D. McManus, Longridge (Telfer 66), Toshney, Miller, Sammon (Johnstone 71). Subs (not used) Bell, Connolly,MacLean, Tidser.

Stranraer – Currie, Robertson, Allan, Cummins, Hamilton, Pignatiello, C. McManus, Hamill, Stirling, Hilton (Stewart 59), Elliott (Murphy 59). Subs (not used) Burgess, Smith, Jones, Dangana.

Referee – Steven Reid.

Attendance – 3488.