Falkirk 1 Hibs 1: Rangers winners in stalemate

Blair Alston celebrates his opener. Picture - Michael Gillen
Blair Alston celebrates his opener. Picture - Michael Gillen

Falkirk remain second in the Championship, after a 1-1 draw at home to Hibs.

It had headline billing on BT Sport with second verusus third in the league, but conditions severely impacted the early exchanges before the sides traded close-range goals in the second half.

There had been an incredible effort from the Bairns and fans to get the game on after heavy snowfall yesterday, but fans cleared the pitch and surrounds and were rewarded with a point if not a vintage performance.

That point is better for the Bairns than it is Alan Stubbs’ men who remain third on goal difference, albeit with a game in hand over Falkirk. Rangers though are the big winners, extending their lead at the top of the table following yesterday’s 4-1 win over Livingston.

The Bairns though remain on course for their play-off objectiv, and comfortably, having nly lost two games this season -- to Hibs at home and away at Rangers -- but they didn’t look likely of losing this one even though Hibs threw everything at them after Blair Alston gave the Bairns the lead.

Jason Cummings tied up the scoring on 73 minutes after Alston’s clever finish had given the Bairns the lead, but goalmouth action had been hard to come by in the early exchanges.

Six minutes in the Bairns threatened, after Hibs had taken the early stages to them. Some lovely footwork by Lee Miller created space to find Aaron Muirhead and a wicked cross was headed over by Blair Alston stooping to meet it.

It was tentative stufff, with players edgy over their footing and concentration more on balance than passing and it madxe for a woefully poor opening half hour which did not include a viable shot on target.

The best the Bairns had came just before half-time when Luke Leahy had a shot deflected over after a clever step-over by John Baird disguised Lee Miller’s pass.

The chances, however, followed immediately after the break, with Miller testing Mark Oxley on the turn almost immediately.

Danny Rogers hadn’t touched the ball second half, but the Bairns were ahead seven minutes after the break. Aaron Muirhead’s ball to the edge of the box was left by Lee Miller for John Baird. His little cushion took it into Blair Alston who kept his cool to sidestep Liam Fontaine and then tap past Oxley from close range.

Hibs benefitted from an awful pebalty box decision when John McGinn went to ground on their last visit to Westfield. This time, and involving the same player it was Falkirk who benefitted. Leahy certainly tripped the player, who stumbled ove3r the ball, but ref John Beaton was close by with a good view and refused the spot-kick.

The Bairns were in a good position but Peter Houston looked to shore up the game by withdrawing a forward deeper and he sawapped Lee Miller for returning Bairn Conor McGrandles. That saw the Bairns fall into a 4-2-3-1 formation but the change co-incided with Hibs having a real go.

Falkirk just couldn’t get the ball clear on 70 minutes and the prolonged Hibs pressure paid off when Liam Henderson fired an angle drive at goal. Danny Rogers pushed the ball out, but Jason Cummings snapped up the rebound and tucked it in at the back post to level after 73 minutes.

Hibs, since their goal and Miller’s withdrawl looked the more likely side and Peter Grant denied them three-times with blocks in a goalmouth scramble then Danny Rogers made a terrific two-handed stop to block Cummings one-on-one as John Beaton’s full-time whistle loomed.

The draw extends Falkirk’s unbeaten run which stretches back to the last time Hibs visited Westfield and won 1-0, 13 games ago.

Att: 7081 (2003)