Duffie’s early strike is all that separates rivals

Duffie was the matchwinner for the Bairns
Duffie was the matchwinner for the Bairns
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Stenhousemuir bowed out of the William Hill Scottish Cup as Falkirk edged the local derby.

Kieran Duffie scored with an unorthodox left foot strike after just eight minutes and it proved to be the winner despite the home side throwing caution to the wind late in the second half.

More than 1700 spectators watched at Ochilview, but the 2200 capacity away end looked packed and it was standing room only in the east car park.

Falkirk controlled the early stages before Duffie’s goal - but it was a fiery derby atmosphere between the players on the park.

Iain Thomson, Scot Buist, Kevin McKinlay and Bryan Hodge were all casting a strong presence on the Warriors midfield, and Craig Sibbald, and Stewart Murdoch were involved for Falkirk too.

Sibbald and Thomson were engaged in an early duel and both would eventually end up in Mat Northcroft’s book.

The goal that settled the game came when Duffie sent a cross for Conor McGrandles that eventually wound its way back to him. He turned inside Darren Smith and and curled the ball inside the post from the corner of the penalty area.

Andy Rodgers was Stenhousemuir’s main threat and creative influence against his former club, and worked well ahead of the industry provided by Thomson and Hodge.

But Thomson was booked for an angry reaction to a two-footed lunge from behind by Conor McGrandles that saw players pile in to remonstrate. The tackle was fortunate to receive just a booking, but Thomson’s throat-grab on the winger also merited a caution.

Neither goalkeeper was particularly troubled in the first half, save for one instance at each end.

Michae McGovern was relieved to see a looping cross by Smith bounce on top of the bar, while Callum Reidford had to beat out a powerful Lyle Taylor drive from the edge of the box.

The remainder were straightforward collections for both goalkeepers.

In the second half there was little to separate the sides, and little for the goalkeepers to do either.

Stenhousemuir threw caution to the wind with 15 minutes to go but couldn’t break Falkirk down despite giving the Bairns a torrid last 10 minutes.

Captain Ross McMillan blasted the ball at goal in the fourth minute of injury time, but it was blocked by Duffie’s arm and body on the line.

The Bairns raced up the other end, catching the gung-ho Warriors on the counter with seconds remaining. Sibbald fed sub Sean Higgins and the injury-free frontman scampered into the box before setting upThomas Grant who stuck the ball away at the second attempt.

He ran jubilant into the net in front of the visiting fans, but was flagged offside and had his first senior goal ruled out.

The Bairns wound down the clock, much to the Warriors’ frustration, with Greg Ross and Kevin McKinlay booked late on.

All three junior games were called off with the cold weather, as was the Shire’s visit to Stirling Albion.