Falkirk 0 Dumbarton 0: Woodwork denies Bairns

Craig Sibbald hit the crossbar. Picture Michael Gillen.
Craig Sibbald hit the crossbar. Picture Michael Gillen.

Falkirk struck the woodwork FOUR times and still couldn’t see off Dumbarton in this vital SPFL Championship match.

The Bairns remain nine points ahead of the Sons who have threee games in hand, but far-off play-off hopes at the other end seem m uch further after a flat second half.

Andy Nelson went close. Picture Michael Gillen.

Andy Nelson went close. Picture Michael Gillen.

Scot Gallacher’s goalframe was trattled four times in an exciting first hal;f, bnut after the break the Bairns fell flat amnd came up short.

And despite their dominance in the first 45, within two minutes they could well have been behind. Reghan Tumilty was hideously short with a pass back to Conor Hazard and Stuart Carswell capitalised. He ran in one-on-one with the goalkeeper but evening out the blunders stroked his shot wide.

Falkirk pushed for the opener and had a series of corners, earning five early on including one from a two-handed push by Scott Gallacher to deny Joe McKee.They went closer moments later when Craig Sibbald’s low drive struck the base of the post.

He wasn’t to be the only one to find the woodwork and it seemed only a matter of time before the Bairns broke the deadlock after the early fright.

Craiog Sibbald hit the woodwork twice. Picture Michael Gillen.

Craiog Sibbald hit the woodwork twice. Picture Michael Gillen.

Alex Jakubiak and Longridge combined for the ex-Raith Rovers man to drive at goal and Craig Barr, his former team-mate in Kirkcaldy, dived across goal to chest the ball away.

Reghan Tumilty then hit an 18th minute effort from 20yards from the opposite side to Sibbald’s shot six minutes earlier, but with the same outcome – shot across goal and off the post.

The game settled down but Andy Nelson lit it up again with two fierce strikes from distance. His first tested Scot Gallacher in the sleepy section of the first half but the Sons goalkeeper was alert to the 30yard drive and beat it out for yet anopther Falkirk corner.

With ten min utes of the first half to play Nelson then beat Gallacher from more than 40yards with an audacious lobh, but he completed the set for Falkirk by striking the crossbar.

He wasn’t the only one. On 38 minutes Sibbald took matters into his own hands and burst to the edge of the box before rattling a strike off the underside of the bar which bounced just the wrong side of the line for those of a Falkirk persuasion in the busy stadium.

After hitting all three sections of the goalframe the Bairns just needed to find the net, and pressed from the restart after the interval.

But far from the slick, exciting ending to the first half, the Bairns had territorial advantage but the play was slack and Dumbarton frustrated.

Ref Colin Steven infuriated the home fans though fopr halting a Falkirk charge forward for treatment to be administered to ex-Bairn Liam Dick who had been pole-axed, but not fouled, by Andy Nelson in the build-up. The Bairns were forced to begin again with Conor Hazard to Paul Hartley’s annoyance.

Indeed the second half was altogether an inconvenience after what should have been a match-winning first half. Instead follpowing that frustration was a flat disappointment after the first half and not until there were 15 minutes left did the Bairns make any play of note.

A clever passage from Longridge, Nelson and Jakubiak created space for McKee to shoot but Scott Gallacher was down to gather.

The Bairns had lined up in an attacking 4-3-3 instead of their usual 3-5-2 but by the midway point of the second half the shape had fallen away. Paul Hartley rolled the dice and ended Tom Taiewo’s 100th league appearance early and sent on Rory Loy.

With four minute to go it almost paid off with Loy driving to goal and seeing his shot blocked, but Andy Nelson taking the rebound and lashing it, deflected, just wide.

The Bairns had been so close before the break, but in the end the second half simply didn’t merit the full quota of points.