FALKIRK 6 ELGIN 1: Bairns safely through to last 16

John Baird celebrates after netting Falkirk's third goal
John Baird celebrates after netting Falkirk's third goal

In a game lacking in atmosphere and characterised by poor Elgin defending and clinical Falkirk finishing, The Bairns progressed to the next round of the Challenge Cup by recording a good 6-1 win against an Elgin side that ran out of steam.

Manager Peter Houston was looking to build on last week’s success against Dumbarton by getting another win under the belt. Falkirk certainly did that- as Houston described the goal fest as a “good day at the office.”

The game plan seemed to be going accordingly to plan when, after just five minutes, Bob McHugh scored a looping header from Myles Hippolyte’s chip. However, after the goal Elgin began to come into the game more and a dangerous cross was cleared by the Falkirk defence.

With the away side having more of the ball for a while, keeper Deniz Doghan Mehmet was forced to make a comfortable save.

After this bright spell from Elgin, Falkirk began to dominate. Hippolyte was looking extremely dangerous down the left hand side and from some promising play, he forced a corner.

Two minutes later, as a result from the long throw, which is becoming an increasingly common feature of Hippolyte’s game, Mark Kerr and Craig Sibbald both had shots blocked and dragged wide.

With Falkirk beginning to look more and more comfortable and dominant they got their reward as Hippolyte’s right footed curling cross from the left-hand side was missed by the head of Baird, but sneaked into the net via the back post.

A surprise goal against the run of play for Elgin came from a mishit free kick which was smashed into the top corner from the edge of the box by defender Mark Nicholson.

After recovering from the shock of conceding an avoidable goal, Falkirk hit back and doubled their lead.

Sibbald played a lovely ball over the top of the Elgin defenders straight into the path of John Baird who thumped the ball into the back of the net through the keeper’s legs.

Baird’s first goal of the season could prove to be vital as fans hope it will boost the strikers’ confidence and he can now start scoring again on a regular basis.

Despite the score there was still a lack of atmosphere at the Falkirk Stadium as the Elgin support pointed out by chanting “Is this a library?”

On 48 minutes, David McCracken nodded in an inswinging corner from Tom Taiwo and celebrated by performing a slow-motion forward roll-though not quite as good as one of Will Vaulks’ somersaults.

Five minutes later the home team had a slight scare when Kerr lost possession and left substitute Craig Gunn free to run at goal. Fortunately the effort went wide.

At the other end, McHugh slipped through a clever ball to Baird whose shot went out for a corner. Soon afterwards, Baird and McHugh combined again and when Baird crossed the ball to McHugh, he swivelled and smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

With the Falkirk players looking more confident by the minute and young Tony Gallagher continuing to have a great debut, The Bairns looked capable of increasing their lead.

Falkirk were then denied a classic goal after a series of neat one touch passes, feints and step-overs, but Hippolyte just couldn’t finish it off.

On 72 minutes the home side finally added a sixth goal when Gallagher crossed from the left for Lee Miller whose right footed shot was blocked, but Baird was there to scramble it in on the third attempt.

Falkirk could have reached double figures in the last period of the game when they squandered several opportunities. All in all- a good day at the office and Falkirk progress in a tournament they have already won on four occasions.