Raith Rovers 1 Falkirk 4: That's better from Bairns

Falkirk celebrate Hippolyte's opener. Pic by Michael Gillen
Falkirk celebrate Hippolyte's opener. Pic by Michael Gillen

Falkirk returned to form with an impressive win in Kirkcaldy to heap more misery on struggling Rovers, without a win in more than two months.

Both managers needed a result to adress concerning slumps, but it was Peter Houston who got it - and with aplomb.

Bob McHugh put Falkirk in front. Pic by Michael Gillen

Bob McHugh put Falkirk in front. Pic by Michael Gillen

Raith took three points from the Falkirk Stadium in an earlier encounter which was catalyst for a mid-season lull. The Bairns have only won twice since, but they added another this afternoon. They were considerably better than their very poor hosts and looked well-drilled in how to dismantle the Kirkcaldy side. It took a little while but dismantle them they did and in emphatic style.

The sides traded goals in the first half with Raith taking full advantage of some poor decision making at the back from the Bairns and Chris Johnston steered them ahead, only for Myles Hippolyte to respond seven minutes later with a classy free-kick into the top corner of Kevin Cuthbert's net.

Bob McHugh sent an angled drive beyond the Raith keeper on 25 minutes before a Craig Sibbald double added gloss to a great afternoon for Falkirk in Fife.

Yet the home side had overloaded Falkirk early on and got the reward with the opener through panicked Bairns defending. Peter Grant played a poor pass on the edge of the area to Mark kerr who was similarly under pressure. The return ball and subsequent clearance smacked the hand of Stevenson, but ref Andrew Dallas waved play on and though Danny Rogers made contact with Chris Johnston's low shot it spun up and over the goalkeeper and into the net.

Falkirk scored four with a double from Craig Sibbald

Falkirk scored four with a double from Craig Sibbald

Peter Houston had been instructing his side to find the upper wide areas of the field, and gave Grant those specific instructions second before the lapse. However it soon bore fruit as Falkirk regrouped to take the lead.

Hippolyte swept in the response after Baird was fouled by Ross Callahan little over 20 yards from goal on 16 minutes. The ball flew into the top corner and the Bairns fans roared.

The home side had to replace new signing Stevenson who had been clattered earlier challenging a cross ball with Danny Rogers. He carried on for 20 minutes before being replaced by Declan McManus, much to the anger of the home support who called for Mark Stewart as replacement.

But their chagrin increased when Bob McHugh sent the Bairns in front with a low angled drive after good build up from Muirhead and Watson sent him clear into the box.

Both these sides needed the win, Falkirk to redress a slump of four games without a win, Raith an alarming run of games with just two goals scored since Hallowe'en. They were denied another when Danny Rogers made a wonder save to deny Declan McManus, clawing out the ball from behind him to keep his side ahead.

And the Bairns took heed of the goalkeeper's action and extended the lead themselves as a low drive from Craig Sibbald seven minutes before the break flew into the net. After Rogers' wonder-save at the away end, Raith goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert attempted to block with his legs and the ball sailed by him and into the net for an unassailable 3-1 lead.

The Bairns were immediately on the attack in the second half and Bob McHugh almost forced Callahan to turn a low cross into his own net, but it was a Falkirk corner from the left which Mark kerr squandered. In fact the Bairns could afford to as seconds later, just three minutes after the restart the Bairns scored the fourth.

Gallacher hit the by-line and pulled the ball back to Sibbald's late run into the box. the midfielder had already notched his second in as many weeks with his first half drive and he slammed the ball into the net via a deflection off Kyle Benedictus.

Raith's woeful run seemed certain to continue, and so too will John Baird's barren run without a goal which extends almost as long. He very nearly got his first since November 12 bursting in on goal after 55 minutes but was both offside and denied by an excellent one-handed stop by Cuthbert.

With the score so emphatic the second half became a case of both sides going through the motions - save for a few heavy knocks, particularly when Jason Thomson and Myles Hippolyte collided, shortly followed by Peter Grant getting burst open in an aerial challenge with Mark Stewart who also didn't emerge unscathed.

Myles Hippolyte was a late threat charged through the middle with two minutes to go but Cuthbert saved his low drive at the second attempt.

However nothing would take the shine off the Bairns day and a welcome return to form for Peter Houston's men.