Falkirk 0 Inverness 0: Bairns draw a blank on Hartley bow

A goalles draw with Inverness wasn't the start new Bairns boss Paul Hartley was hoping for (pic by Michael Gillen)
A goalles draw with Inverness wasn't the start new Bairns boss Paul Hartley was hoping for (pic by Michael Gillen)

Falkirk were lucky to escape with a 0-0 draw after they were given a second-half battering from Inverness at the Falkirk Stadium.

New manager Paul Hartley had stressed earlier in the week the importance of clean sheets, and although they chalked up their third on the bounce they were fortunate to do so after a series of chances for the away side.

Hartley made just one enforced change, restoring Robbie Thomson to the starting XI in place of David Mitchell who picked up an injury in the previous fixture.

The goalkeeper was part of the Alex Smith side that steadied the ship somewhat with two victories without conceding a goal, so it was no surprise to see Hartley stick with the same team otherwise after taking over from the caretaker manager.

It was a bright start to the match for Kevin O’Hara whose tenacity led to the first chance of the game, winning the ball on the right flank before feeding Joe McKee who shot wide.

John Baird then had a chance at the other end after Conrad Balatoni first won the ball then lazily conceded possession straight away. It led to strike from Baird that flashed just beyond the far top corner.

The away side were continually looking to hit on the break and fashioned another chance when Liam Polworth broke through the middle but his long-range effort was comfortably saved by Thomson.

With 25 minutes on the clock Jake Mulraney was booked for diving after going down when passing Jordan McGhee, much to the anger of Liam Polworth, who was cautioned for dissent.

The best chance of the first half however fell to McGhee, whose goal-bound header was tipped over by Mark Ridgers.

Barid was involved in most of Inverness’ attacking play and another chance fell to him early in the first half when he cut inside after collecting the ball from Connor Bell, but with Mulraney in a great position to his right he elected to shoot and fired over.

Myles Hippolyte and Mark O'Hara were both presented with half-chances within minutes of each other but neither could steer their shots on target, though O'Hara done especially well to loop his towards the far top corner from a tight angle.

Bell then spurned a great chance and must have been totally unaware of the space he had. Receiving the ball with his back to goal after Baird slipped it in behind the Falkirk defence, he hit it first time when taking on the ball in would have seen him one on one with the goalkeeper.

Tom Taiwo then went down injured, leading to a double substitution which saw he and O’Hara replaced by James Craigen and Cameron Blues.

The flurry of Inverness attacks continued however with Baird at the heart of most of them, desperately searching for a goal against his former club. First he sent a free header over the bar before a few minutes later sliding in Mulraney, who hesitated before seeing his shot saved.

From the resulting corner Mulraney saw his effort rebound off the post, and the same player was again denied when his shot was excellently saved by Thomson a few minutes later.

Falkirk exerted some pressure on their opponents in the dying stages but were unable to create anything clear-cut.