Bairns finally beaten at New Douglas Park

Pic Lisa McPhillips 05/10/2013'SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP - Falkirk FC v Queen of the South FC'Westfield Stadium, Falkirk'Falkirk Manager Gary Holt
Pic Lisa McPhillips 05/10/2013'SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP - Falkirk FC v Queen of the South FC'Westfield Stadium, Falkirk'Falkirk Manager Gary Holt

Falkirk’s nine-game unbeaten run at Hamilton came to an end as strikes from Tony Andreu and Louis Longridge kept the Accies at the top of the SPFL Championship.

It was a fairly tepid affair with goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert comfortably behind most of what Falkirk tested him with.

The Bairns have not won since seeing off Queen of the South at the beginning of the month, but had a good record at the Lanarkshire ground since 2005 and while that maintained optimism going into the final throes of the game, it was clear which was the home team - and league-leaders - long before a powerful drive from Accies’ sub Longridge sealed the tie for the home side.

Even the upset to Accies plans didn’t knock them off course. They made a late change drafting in Jon McShane to replace James Keatings who passed a late fitness test at New Douglas Park then failed to complete the warm-up.

It left the hosts with a particularly boisterous attack for David McCracken and Will Vaulks to contend with, but the return of McCracken in-place of the injured Johnny Flynn, added experience to the Bairns’ back-line.

Accies should hve taken the lead within five minutes. A corner found Mikey Devlin unmarked and unchallenged as he peeled out of the cluster round the goal and headed narrowly wide.

Jay Fulton went even closer on eight minutes after Conor McGrandles had been fouled on the edge of the box. Fulton had scored a free-kick in the previous meeting between the sides, and gave the Bairns the lead, this time he whipped the ball into the side netting.

It had been a cagey opening 15 minutes - Falkirk had showed good work in tight areas but Accies were intent on keeping those areas tight and closed down quickly. Accies pressured Liam Dick at left-back in palce of Stephen Kingsley, and after making progress down that side troubled Michael McGovern when Ali Crawford’s shot was blocked close in.

McGovern got a similar touch to Tony Andreu’s effort after a Curier cross from the left - only this time he couldn’t keep the ball out - and it sneaked inside his post to give Accies the lead.

Accies’ commited defending was having the desired effect and keeping the Bairns out, though Rory Loy left Martin Canning flat on his back with a neat piece of skill, and even though the ball caught under his body, the striker maintained possession to shoot at goal and force a save from Kevin Cuthbert’s feet.

The Bairns pressed for the equaliser the longer the first half went on without going much closer than Loy - though Sibbald found himself one-on-one with Cuthbert and the Accies goalkeeper chested the ball away.

There was no suckerpunch, as though Accies allowed the Bairns onto them and countered they wouldn’t beat McGovern again before the referee Alan Muir drew the first-half to a close.

As has been a trait this season there was an upturn from Falkirk after the interval, and the majority of the play was well away from Michael McGovern’s goal.

Rakish Bingham looked desperate to get his first goal for the Bairns and twice had the chance. After seizing a stray pass he zoned in on goal, supported by Jay Fulton. The on-loan forward only had one intention though and, head-down, headed for the box and fired low along the rain-slicked surface into the arms of Cuthbert.

Falkirk kept up the pressure and Loy’s workrate kept them ticking over up front. The ex-Carlisle man crossed for Bingham and the ball beat Accies’ goalkeeper, but Ziggy Gordon nodded away from Falkirk’s unlucky 13 on the line.

After being booked for simulation in the penalty box Jay Fulton had a go from 20 yards, that Cuthbert was comfortably behind once again, and Falkirk’s second-half dominance began to wane.

Changes for both sides failed to change the outcome of the match but sub Louis Longridge confirmed it with a powerful drive four minutes from time.