Falkirk got out of jail with a last-gasp penalty and closed the gap at the top on an instantly forgettable afternoon.
A scoreless draw seemed inevitable until Mark Millar fired the last-minute spot-kick right down the middle and gave the Bairns three uninspiring, yet vital, points in the Championship title race.
Former Bairn Chris Mitchell was adjudged to have handled Phil Roberts’ through ball in the visitors box and many will have missed the incident having streamed form the stands long before the full-time whistle and late late drama.
They had reason to leave. An uneventful first-half saw a similar scenario for Falkirk’s recent games, much possession, little impact.
David McCracken had a great chance when a wicked Mark Millar corne rfell at his feet. It only needed a touch to knock it over the goal-line, but the defender allowed the ball to strike him, rather than forcing it home himself and the sting of the cross was lost and Zander Clark gathered.
Clark had a lot more to do than Michael McGovern at the other end, and tipped over a Mark Beck header which was ruled out anyway for a push by the on-loan Carlisle United forward.
Rory Loy could have given the Bairns the lead after some neat footwaork and a one-two with Millar but the Queen of the Sotuh defence shut him down.
The visitors’ only chance fell to Durnan heading a Russell header across goal at a corner and Vaulks cleared from the six-yard area.
Vaulks had been on the right of an unorthodox 3-5-2 with Stephen Kingsley tucked in alongside David McCracken and Joe Chalmers on the outside. Phil Roberts was also missing from the starting eleven, but made a second half appearance.
Before the forward’s introduction however, McCracken headed another Millar corner into the ground and Paul Burns tested McGovern with a powerful shot. Roberts caused problems for the Doonhamers’ defence when he replaced Sibblad but Falkirk couldn’t take the lead.
The visitors should have just after the hour when sub Danny Carmichael sliced the ball over the bar. They were hassling Fakirk for possession at every opportunity and defending from the front. Iain Russell went closer, shooting powerfully from the edge of the box and mcGovern pulling off a good two-handed parry to keep them out.
Late on the Bairns had a chance when Loy got to the by-line and cut back but the pass was too similar to many of the Bairns’ this afternoon - hopeful and not exploited.
But Millar got them out of jail with a penalty kick that changes the complexion of the Championship title race with Dundee losing to Cowdenbeath at Central Park.
The Bairns are now three points from the league leaders, and two behind Hamilton in second place who won 2-0 at home to Livingtston on Friday night.