Falkirk 0 Ayr 1: Championship leaders keep Bairns at the bottom

Craig Moore. Picture Michael Gillen.
Craig Moore. Picture Michael Gillen.

Falkirk remain at the bottom of the SPFL Championship table after Ayr won this dull afternoon in Central Scotland with a Craig Moore goal that kept them top.

Ray McKinnon’s side looked like they had a match for the league leaders - the second time the Bairns have had to meet the top of the table side in a week after deposing Ross County on Tuesday. But after keeping Ian McCall’s side quiet in the first half, a strike from Craig Moore separated the sides and though the Bairns grafted to level, they were found wanting.

Craig Moore gave the Hinest Men the win. Picture Michael Gillen.

Craig Moore gave the Hinest Men the win. Picture Michael Gillen.

As Tommy Robson said ahead of this match, the Bairns had set a standard against Ross County. They matched it in terms of determination, but they couldn’t match a result benefitting their lowly league status.

In short it was a first half bereft of much interest at all. And that suited the Bairns.  Containment was the name of the game and they saw out the limited threat of the league leaders with ease.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Falkirk 0 Ayr United 1

Andrew Irving probably came closest with a curling free-kick that was sailing well wide, though Petravicius twice cut-back dangerous low crosses for the Bairns but there were no takers.

Ray McKinnon had been enforced into two changes from the midweek improvement against Ross County with Paul Paton

 suspended for this match and Aaron Muirhead revealing a broken ankle after the match. They were replaced by Prince Buaben, who had a bright start, and Scott Harrison who headered bravely until the break.

The match turned on the interval. The Bairns had not been troubled in the first half but within five minutes of the restart they were behind when Craig Moore beat David Mitchell close in on the half volley.

LEAGUE TABLE: SPFL Championship

Suddenly there were spaces and play flowing into them after the chess match of the opening 45.

Falkirk, to their credit, responded immediately. Andy Irving was central to the attacks and should have carved open an opportunity for Joe McKee to make an immediate response, but the midfielder’s close control let him down.

McKee did almost supply the leveller with a wicked cross that caught Zak Rudden unawares. The Rangers loanee did well to steer the ball from behind him towards the goal without much notice, but it was high and wide. Then Deimantas Petravicius went close cutting in and driving just over.

Ray McKinnon pitched Marcus Haber

and Dennon Lewis on to add to the Bairns attacking threat and, just like the even matched chess of the first half Ian McCall did likewise and replaced amongst other Mark Kerr. The former Falkirk captain was given a standing ovation from The Falkirk Stadium as he left the park on 67 minutes.

If there is a positive to take for the Bairns from yet another reverse, who couldn’t really create many more openings, it was that they curtailed the attacking endeavours of Lawrence Shankland, albeit  the striker was still overcoming illness and eventually substituted for Michael Moffat.

The Bairns should have snatched one late on when Rueben Sammut headed wide from the edge of the six yard area.