Hibs 3 Falkirk 3: Stalemate in controversial thriller

Will Vaulks (Falkirk) celebrates the equalising goal. Picture Alan Rennie.
Will Vaulks (Falkirk) celebrates the equalising goal. Picture Alan Rennie.

Falkirk took a point from Easter Road in a thrilling draw dogged by controversy.

John Baird appeared to score a second goal for the Bairns when he chested a Rory Loy flick-of into the net just before the half-hour. Most in Easter Road thought the visitors were ahead and with even ref Willie Collum moving back towards the centre circle indicated the lead had changed hands.

But the under-fire ref, who had two red cards overturned by the SFA panel in midweek, suddenly turned and consiulted assistant Lorraine Clark and bizarrely ruled out the goal.

The Bairns were insensed. Confused like most within the ground, but angry too. It later transpired the call was for offside against the scorer who was offside according to the assistant.

The farcical circumstance seemed to floor the Bairns who were in the ascendency despite losing an early goal to Jason Cummings.

They had equalised through Baird who leapt and seemed to hang in the air to steer the ball past Mark Oxley.

Potentially 2-1 up, shortly after the controversy the Bairns were 2-1 down when a combination of Luke Leahy and Cummings sliced the ball over the line at a corner kick.

To make matters worse, Jamie MacDonald misread a throughball and was beaten in the race by Martin Boyle. The on-loan Dundee man took the ball wide and crossed for Cummings to seal a hat-trick into the unguarded goal.

The Bairns, for their period of ascendency had rattled the Hibees but after Collum’s stop-start reaction to the phantom second goal the flow was interrupted and Hibs justifiably led on balance on play, but perhaps not so on officiating decisions.

The lead was still intact despite Liam Craig’s own goal at the beginning of the second half for his former club.

It gave the Bairns hope and they took full advantage and pressing forward pro-actively they were the better side until the final ten minutes of the game when Hibs pushed hard for a winner.

The equalising goal Falkirk’s play merited came when Peter Grant - who appeared to have a claim at the second goal - steered Mark Kerr’s free-kick beyond Oxley.

Falkirk could have had another two goals after Craig Sibbald flummoxed Hanlon with a side-step shuffle and lifted a precise shot at the top corner only for Oxley to claw it out.

Then, with the final kick of the game, Blair Alston fired a 35yard free-kick into the top corner but again the goalkeeper matched it and beat it out.