Falkirk 0 St Mirren 0: Another blank for the Bairns

Myles Hippolyte. Picture Michael Gillen.
Myles Hippolyte. Picture Michael Gillen.

Falkirk slipped down the Championship table despite holding the league leading Buddies to a commendable scoreless draw.

It’s the second consecutive scoreless draw for Paul Hartley, and the Bairns have yet to score a home league goal since Luca Gasparotto’s consolation against Queen of the South on August 26.

Bairns boss Paul Hartley. Picture Michael Gillen.

Bairns boss Paul Hartley. Picture Michael Gillen.

There are signs of improvement though. Paul Hartley’s side look significantly stronger and tougher to beat, and Falkirk have not conceded since the change in manager just under a month ago.

Today though, they couldn’t register another league win and with Inverness Caledonian Thistle defeating Dundee United, the Highlanders leap-frogged the Bairns in the standings. That’s tough on the side who laid siege to the Saints goal for long spells of the second half but couldn’t find that scoring edge.

Saints certainly had the better of the first half, and looked the team at the top of the league. In saying that, neither side could make the breakthrough.

Robbie Thomson almost gifted the visitors a goal in a defensive mix-up, but recovered well and pushed another good strike from Lewis Morgan around the post.

Austin should have done better after turning Jack Baird. Picture Michael Gillen.

Austin should have done better after turning Jack Baird. Picture Michael Gillen.

Gregor Buchanan needed just a touch to turn in a Morgan corner just before the interval – but he couldn’t make contact with the set-piece front and centre of the Bairns’ goal.

At the other end there was less going on in the first half, with Nathan Austin up front on his own, but backed by three attacking midfielders in James Craigen, Myles Hippolyte and Alex Harris. Too often though, the lone frontman was adrift from his midfield support and outmuscled by Buchanan and Jack Baird at the back.

He did though go close to converting after a terrific pass from Joe McKee

played in Craigen. The cross from the right came at an awkward height, but Austin headed into the ground, but the ball bounced over.

Visiting boss Jack Ross. Picture Michael Gillen.

Visiting boss Jack Ross. Picture Michael Gillen.

Austin also showed a clean pair of heels to Baird with a great turn, but without the support he went himself and fired into the side-netting on the tight angle.

It was equal, if uninspiring stuff but the Bairns picked it up in the second half and spent long spells pressuring Craig Samson in the Saints’ goal, without really offering that conclusive threat to the league leaders that their possession and pressure deserved.

Paul Hartley pitched in youngster Cieran Dunne for his debut and the midfielder who only signed for Falkirk in the summer from Forth Valley Football Academy made a good first impression.

Unfazed by the occasion and strong enough in stature to compete, he twice had attempts on goal, firing over on his left foot and then having another effort blocked after showing great composure to recover from an awkward slip.

The home fans were supportive too and from the murmurings of the first half they saw enough from the second to respond with encouragement to the Bairns.

Paul Hartley made more attacking changes, pitching Kevin O’Hara and Lee Miller into the fray but neither could break the deadlock and avoid a second consecutive scoreless draw at The Falkirk Stadium.

Cammy Smith did his bit to try to avoid another blank, but fired low pastRobbie Thomson’s far post with a minute to go, then the keeper made a good stop to deny Reilly in time added on.