Falkirk 3 Morton 1: Job done in 45 minutes

Alex Jakubiak was on target for the Bairns. Picture Michael Gillen.
Alex Jakubiak was on target for the Bairns. Picture Michael Gillen.

A stunning first half by Falkirk blew Morton away and landed the Bairns with all three points.

Goals from Aaron Muirhead, Andy Nelson and Alex Jakubiak sent Falkirk clear at the break and they barely looked back though Gary Harkins’ header pulled one back at the end for the visitors.

Andy Nelson was toppled for the opener. Picture Michael Gillen.

Andy Nelson was toppled for the opener. Picture Michael Gillen.

Both sides had been in action against Old Firm opposition in the William Hill Scottish Cup last weekend before this Ladbrokes Championship match.This weekFalkirk couldn’t have asked for a better start and lived up to their pre-match favourites tag from the bookies.

Andrew Nelson had a great game and was at the centre of two and almost three goals in the first half, and it weas his run that created the first on a freezing and wet day at Westfield. The Bairns caught Morton cold and the on-loan Sunderland man was toppled by Ricki Lamie.

Aaron Muirhead slammed the spot-kick past Derek Gaston for the fourth minute opener, and his second in as many games after a more fortuitous strike at Ibrox in the Cup last week.

Morton had an old Falkirk flavour up front with Jim Duffy re-uniting John Baird and Bob McHugh in the visitors’ attack, but though Baird was a nuisance to the defence, McHugh couldn’t stamp any mark on the game, and neither really did many of his team-mates.

Aaron Muirhead gave Derek Gaston no chance. Picture Michael Gillen.

Aaron Muirhead gave Derek Gaston no chance. Picture Michael Gillen.

Conor Hazard only had a blast from Scott Tiffoney to deal with though the Ton did seek an equaliser, though they looked rather than pressed for it.

In one of those moments Falkirk caught the visitors on the counter attack, and it was a brilliant team goal.

Muirhead headed out of the box, at the second attempt and Louis Longridge helped the ball on with a boot over his shoulder. Alex Jakubiak wrestled his way in front of Michael Tidser and held the ball up for Longridge to charge up the field and onto the end of a clever backheel from the on-loan Watford man. Longridge had Nelson overlapping him and played a neat through ball which Nelson clipped in for the Bairns second.

It was a fluent, narrow move back to front and an excellent finish.

It was Muirhead's second strike in as many weeks. Picture Michael Gillen.

It was Muirhead's second strike in as many weeks. Picture Michael Gillen.

Falkirk continued to allow Morton to ocme onto them and hit on the break. Lamie was again exploited at the back for the Greenock side when Jakubiakrobbed him on the half hour and jinked into the box before trickling a shot past Gaston and in off the post.

A fourth would not have been undeserving of the home side who had attacked the game with vigour from the whistle, following a minute’s applause for former kitman Robert Miller.

That goal almost came when Nelson kept the ball in play and weaved into the box, slaloming past four Ton defenders then lifting the ball over Gaston. It floated just an inch to high and knocked the crossbar rather than falling just below it which the shot and the run so deserved.

Just on the hour Ryan Blair’s curled free-kick was tipped out by Derek Gaston and the closest Morton came was when Jordan McGhee prodded out of Hazard’s grasp then volleyed clear off the line.

Andrew Nelson was the man of the match. Picture Michael Gillen.

Andrew Nelson was the man of the match. Picture Michael Gillen.

That gave the Ton confidence and they attempted to save some face by at least scoring with the game beyond them. But despite sustained pressure, and Paul Hartley re-enforcing his midfield with Lewis Kidd and Joe McKee for Ryan Blair and Louis Longridge, the Bairns stood firm until the final minute when Gary Harkins headed in.

That disappointed the Falkirk manager but he can take consolation from the league table.

The Bairns are now two points off sixth placed rivals Dunfermline in the SPFL SPFL Championship table, having leap-frogged Inverness Caley whose game at Livingston was postponed.

Alex Jakubiak knocked in the Bairns' third. Picture Michael Gillen.

Alex Jakubiak knocked in the Bairns' third. Picture Michael Gillen.