Falkirk 3 Inverness 1: Bairns up to eighth

Falkirk have moved out of the relegation area under Paul Hartley. Picture Michael Gillen.
Falkirk have moved out of the relegation area under Paul Hartley. Picture Michael Gillen.
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Two penalties and a maiden strike for Andy Nelson moved Falkirk out of the relegation area for the first time since October.

Two penalties and a maiden strike for Andy Nelson moved Falkirk out of the relegation area for the first time since October.

Jake Mulraney was fortunate to avoid a card for his second challenge on Longridge and then walked for this on Tommy Robson.  Picture Michael Gillen.

Jake Mulraney was fortunate to avoid a card for his second challenge on Longridge and then walked for this on Tommy Robson. Picture Michael Gillen.

Skipper Aaron Muirheadslammed both second-half spot-kicks by Mark Ridgers to leap-frog Dumbarton into eighth place. The sides exchanged goals at the end, but Falkirk are moving on up under Paul Hartley.

The Bairns were up against ten men for the duration of that second half after a crazy sending off for Caley’s Jake Mulraney – the very player who terrorised the Bairns in the Highlands at the start of the month.

The winger had three attempts at getting himself an early bath, first for a cynical barge on Louis Longridge making his way unchallenged down the left-wing which brought a booking from ref Euan Anderson, then just one minute later he escaped unpunished, though hurt, from an over-zealous tackle on the same player with the ball there to be won by both parties.

Falkirk fans were calling for a card for that challenge too but they were a minute premature when Mulraney walked for a push and kick out at Tommy Robson.

Jake Mulranney was sent off.  Picture Michael Gillen.

Jake Mulranney was sent off. Picture Michael Gillen.

It provided some note for a first half where each side had largely cancelled one another out in troublesome windy conditions.

The Bairns had been finishing the first period strongly having eweathered some light pressure from the Highland visitors in the first half. Robbie Thomson made two decent stops from Joe Chalmers and George Oakley to keep the scores blank going into the break, though Peter Grant should have burst the net with a loose ball in the box but Caley scrambled clear.

The red card changed the complexion of an even game and cost theHighland side dear.

Falkirk attacked from the restart and Longridge’s clever sidestep past Chalmers three minutes in fooled the ex-Bairn who clipped the forward’s heels on the edge of the box and gave Euan Anderson an easy decision to make.

Picture Michael Gillen.

Picture Michael Gillen.

Aaron Muirhead tucked the penalty to Ridgers’ left to give the Bairns the lead and then slammed the ball down the middle just after the hour to double his tally.

Tommy Robson had been fouled in the box by Collin Seedorf – the Caley defender doing the Falkirk wing-back a favour after a mistake and miscontrol, but he was hauled down and gave the Bairns their second opportunity from the spot.

The second eased the nerves and Falkirk were probably guilty of over-playing on the edge of the Caley box but a more direct run from Robson - a lay-off and return pass from house-mate Andy Nelson – forced Ridgers into a good save on 78 minutes.

The latter got on the scoresheet too but only after Caley capitalised on some slack play by Jordan McGhee. The defender joined the attack but got the ball stuck under his feet and Jack Brown launched the ball up front for Daniel McKay to chase. The 16-year-old took possession held off Muirhead and shot past Thomson from the edge of the box.

If there were concerns over the destination of the full quota of points – the Bairns were still going to leapfrog the Sons regardless – they were dispelled three minutes from time when Nelson converted a pass from sub Alex Jakubiak and was then substituted to a standing ovation.

The Bairns move up to eighth in the Ladbrokes SPFL Championship, seven points off Caley Thistle with a game in hand on the Highlanders.