Falkirk turned up the heat on league leaders Hamilton and Dundee by winning at Dens Park.
Defeat at Alloa’s ice-laden Recreation Park looked to have put Bairns on a slippery slope and their title bid in cold storage, but a magnificent hard-worked victory in the City of Discovery makes the Championship title chase a little more complicated.
Hamilton lead the league on goal difference with Falkirk a further six behind but the top two meet next week.
Dundee will need to bounce back in that game after being simply out-fought by Falkirk.
Mark Beck’s header from a Mark Millar corner in the 18th minute gave them the lead that was never relinquished as Gary Holt got the game-plan spot on.
Peter MacDonald had half of Dens Park on their feet as it curled into the side netting. That bwas as animated as the homke crowd would be as the Bairns scrapped and battled the Dark Blues into a meek submission by the 90th minute.
But within the first ten minutes the defence was back under pressure with panicked clearances from Craig Sibbald, David McCracken and Joe Chalmers failing to make the cut and Michale McGovern was cautious in tipping the ball over eventually. The corner caused more problems with MacDonald’s header being booted off the line by Mark Millar on the post.
There was a lull in proceedings and the home fans stayed quiet especially when Mark Beck diverted Millar’s corner in with a great header on 18 minutes that sent the Bairns ahead with their first attempt on goal.
It should have been cancelled out but for Michael McGovern who made a brave save at the feet of Craig Beattie four minutes later after the ex-Hearts man shrugged off Will Vaulks and advanced clear on goal. Beattie had another shot on goal 28 minutes in and fired straight at McGovern again.
The goal had injected a real urgency into the match and it really pulsed end to end for the remainder of the first half. It was scrambling frantic football played on the break but it was worthy of attention as two teams desparate to win it at the top end of the division.
Beattie made it a hat-trick of misses when he capitalised on more defensive panic at the Bairns back and fired off the outside of the post when it looked easier to score on 35 minutes.
Gary Holt can have no complaints over the first half effort from his side and they should have led by more but Kyle Letheren tipped a Rory Loy shot just round the post after a good advancing run down the left by Joe Chalmers. Dundee’s players seemed to be ball watching and waiting for nthe poasses to reach them, but the Bairns were zippijng in in-front of them to intercept and the hassling was paying off.
The battling continued. Will Vaulks and Jim McAlister had a sickening clash of heads which left both prone. Vaulks was patched up and carried on with a Rab C Nesbitt look and bandage strapped around his ever-increasing crop of hair he’s growing for the Grow4Joe charity.
Millar battled too hard and almost crocked Martin Boyle with a late tackle a yard infront of assistant referee Kylie McCallum, but it was over-looked. His next charge on the ball to an excellent lay-off from Mark Beck earned him the chance from the penalty spot as Iain Davidson bundled him over in the box.
Millar’s kick was to Letheren’s left and the keeper guessed right but coulkdn’t hold the ball which trickled over the line for a corner kick.
The home side threw on Nicky Riley - a tormentor of Falkirk in games gone past - and Christian Nade but they couldn’t level as the game approached 90 minutes and the home crowd grew restless as they saw the Bairns ease out the game they never looked likely ofm losing once they had the lead.