QOS 2 Falkirk 2: Late exchange can’t separate duo

Will Vaulks heads Falkirk's first
Will Vaulks heads Falkirk's first

Falkirk’s run of consecutive league wins ended on five – but they are now unbeaten in six after a draw at Palmerston.

Results elsewhere saw the Bairns lose ground on second-placed Hibs, but they matched the draws achieved by top of the table rivals Rangers plus Raith and Morton behind them.

The Bairns were twice in front but pulled back by two defensive lapses which Queens capitalised on.

Peter Houston said: “It was two individual mistakes, but I’ve got nothing but praise for my players.

“When you score with six minutes to go, you expect to see it out but we’ve now taken 16 points from 18 in this quarter.”

Houston was rightly happy with his players who worked hard for the point and probably should have had more given their start and blistering first half. They had started brightly and pummelled Polmont-boy Robbie Thomson in the Queen of the South goal.

In the 18th minute the Bairns had the lead their dominance deserved.

Will Vaulks opened the scoring and it was fairly mediocre by his standards. A corner from Craig Sibbald – the Bairns’ sixth of the game – was glanced in by the Englishman’s near-post run and bumped over the line by the hip of Iain Russell.

This buccaneering, free-flowing football looked natural to Falkirk and the confidence in the squad is clear, but they have never had it easy at Palmerston.

They had Danny Rogers to thank for keeping them in the game – twice before the half-hour.

The keeper tipped a 25th minute strioke from Alex Harris over in Queen’s first attack and in their second, he was down to block an Andy Dowie header at his left-hand post after Mark Millar had burst down the left to cross.

Matters settled but it was in the balance again when David McCracken was penalised by ref Stevie McLean for contesting a high ball with Derek Lyle. The Dumfries side’s striker was sent tumbling and took the spot-kick himself.

Former Palmerston team-mate John Baird gave Danny Rogers a tip before the spot-kick, but it was to no avail as Lyle sent the keeper the wrong way.

That was the action for the first half but the second opened brightly with Queens going close when Harris smashed a shot across goal and Kyle Jacobs was inches away from knocking it in at the backpost.

It was much more evenly matched with Queens now in their stride and as the temperature dropped the tempers flared.

The centre-circle became a battleground and Vaulks was cautioned for a challenge on Lyle as both sides scrambled for, but failed to keep, possession, and further bookings followed for Aaron Muirhead, Kyle Hutton as the game broke down with more cards brandished than chances created.

Peter Grant did manage to stay out of the book though and was fortunate to do so after being nudged out of an aerial challenge by Lyle he clipped the Queens striker clean through on goal but McLean let the game flow.

Bob McHugh picked up a knock on the hour mark and limped off to be replaced by Lee Miller, and the game needed a spark from the Bairns fans’ favourite, even just to warm up the plummeting Palmerston temperatures.

Then Falkirk carved open the Doonhamers’ defence, or at least Craig Sibbald did. The tenacious 20-year-old took, lost then won back possession and tip-toed into the box around defenders and laid a neat pass sideways to Johhn Baird whose drive was tipped onto the crossbar and out for a corner by Thomson.

The set-piece from Sibbald was met by Grant at the backpost and Baird stooped to head the knock-down. He hit the woodwork and the riccochet fell for Lee Miller to force the ball in from close range.

The Bairns thought they had it, the celebrations was exuberant but there was a stoing in the tail.

The home side launched the ball forward and, after creating the chance for the second Grant’s defensive lapse allowed Iain Russell to force home an angled volley and he made a bee-line straight for Vaulks in midfield to celebrate the leveller around the Bairns captain.