Falkirk’s league season ended with a defeat to Hibs who secured second-place in the Championship.
Goals from Martin Boyle, Jason Cummings and Dominique Malonga finally saw off the Bairns for the Edinburgh side at the fifth time of asking this season.
The war of words that erupted after the semi-final victory for the Bairns heated up an incredibly cold day for the second of May.
Alan Stubbs reckoned his side deserved to win that day -- and each time his side had played, and failed to defeat, Peter Houston’s Falkirk.
Crosses into the box were how the Bairns have defeated the Hibees, and the visitors still didn’t look clever when the ball was delivered from wide, crucially this time though Hibs scored more than Falkirk.
After just five minutes the away dugout had the bragging rights when Martin Boyle gave the edinburgh side the lead. He took the ball around 15 yards from his own penalty area and instigated a fast-breaking attack. Out-pacing Will Vaulks to meet the return of the one-two pass with Scott Allan, he bore down on Jamie MacDonald to receive and steer the ball into the net from just inside the box.
The bairns could have had one of their own five minutes later when Craiug Sibbald’s whipped cross was steered wide - just - by Liam Fontaine. It almost sneaked in, and Mark Oxley flappoed at Blair Alston’s corner kick.
From another Sibbald cross, the Bairns certainly should have scored. Vaulks atoned for a slow start with a thumping tackle on Scott Allan and then some composed footwork in the midle before feeding the ball wide. Sibbald’s cross was perfect for John Baird to knock in just a few yards from goal but he stooped to meet a perfectly-flighted delivery and the ball bounced high into the air.
In an almost carbon copy of his semi-final header, Sibbald went close from a Tom Taiwo cross on 20 minutes and the Bairns, after falling behind continued to be the more progressive side. Tom Taiwo fizzed another effort wide.
Hibs went close with a series of shots that were blocked by Peter Grant and David McCracken on the edge of the box and another from close range when the captain blocked Malonga after Jason Cummings made in-roads along the by-line.
Hibs began to lift closer to the interval and after a passage of possessioj broke ddown with a loose pass from Sibbald Hibs pressed and were defied by MacDonald. The keeper seems to revel playing the Hibees and he and the home support enjoyed a nifty dropped shoulder which tricked Jason Cummibngs in the lead-up to half-time.
The striker got his own back though by doing the same to the keeper close in when the ball fell to him with Peter Grant misreading a cross into the box, of all things.
Oxley beat out an Alston drive on the stroke of half-time and after the restart, Hibs were forced into a change when Liam Dick and Jordan Forster collided and ended the Hibs defender’s afternoon on a stretcher.
Dominque Malonga was booked for a late stamp on David McCracken’s ankle, but inexplicably Mark Kerr avoided similar for a cynical trip on Lewis Stevenson’s trailing leg just 30 seconds later.
Peter Houston made an attacking switch with Scott Shepherd on for Will Vaulks, but the sub was booked not long afterwards for diving in the box.
The tie was over when Jason Cummings’ pass to Dominque Malonga cut last-man Liam Dick out of the equation entirely and the striker slid the ball past MacDonald.
The result confirmed Hibs’ second-placed finish in the Championship, while Rangers drew with Hearts. Falkirk were already confirmed fifth place finishers.
Falkirk: MacDonald, Duffie, Dick, McCracken, Grant, Vaulks (Shepherd 67), Taiwo, Kerr (Smith 76), Sibbald, Alston, Baird. Subs: Morgan, Bowman, Cooper, Muirhead, Blair.
Hibs: Oxley, Hanlon, Fontaine, Forster (Gray 49), Robertson, Craig, Stevenson, Boyle (Stanton 75), Allan, Malonga, Cummings (Fyvie 87). Subs: Handling, DjaDjedje, Martin, Cerny.
ATT: 7672 (3493 away)