Rangers 1 Falkirk 0: King’s kick in the teeth for Bairns

30-01-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. Craig Sibbald was much livelier than recent weeks against Rangers.
30-01-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. Craig Sibbald was much livelier than recent weeks against Rangers.

Billy King’s diving header in the 90th minute gave Falkirk a defeat gthey scarcely deserved.

It had been an entertaining scoreless 90 minutes, with Falkirk tireless and outstanding, but ultimately, they were picked off by a late, late header from Rangers’ new signing, on as a substitute.

Peter Houston’s first half tactics were spot-on for the first half and the Bairns refused to be broken down by Rangers’ patient play and the visitors should even have led, creating the game’s clearest chances.

The first half was book-ended by two great chances for Falkirk, but it was scoreless at half-time despite the Bairns efforts.

Blair Alston squandered a great opportunity on 95 seconds when Conor McGrandles robbed Barrie McKay and clipped a cross to the midfielder, but Alston floated his unchallenged header over the bar.

It was the clearest opportunity in the opening exchanges, and probably the whole match.

The Falkirk back-line was under pressure – it needed respite from John Baird coming back to hold the ball up and earn a free-kick - but it was not unduly troubled in the opening quarter of an hour aside from a piledriver by James Tavernier which Danny Rogers pushed out with both hands. Ther keeper was also alert to knock a dipping overhit cross from Martyn Waghorn over the bar.

Will Vaulks sent a dipping strike over from 25 yards on 19 minutes but all in it was a patient opening where the guile of the midfield three for Falkirk - Alston, Conor McGrandles and Mark Kerr were proving their worth. Luke Leahy too was being afforded a lot of space up Falkirk’s left-flank and he and Craig Sibbald were roaming forward for the Bairns.

Dean Shiels has often been a thorn in Falkirk’s side and his quick shift beat Aaron Muirhead of pace on the half-hour mark but his cut-back into the six-yard box was cleared out by Peter Grant.

Then the ball, again, should have been in the net for Falkirk six minutes from the break. McGrandles’ cross ended up with Vaulks at the backp;ost and Foderingham denied him with a good low save. John Baird, smacked the close-range rebound off the lunging Danny Wilson, but still the Bairns striker had possession. He dug a shot out from under his feet which struck Foderingham before being met two yards from gthe line and cleared by Dominic Ball.

The second half saw an early siege on nthe Bairns goal but the defence stood up and kept Rangers out, and after a prolonged spell of Rangers pressure the Bairns got forward and almost sneaked a goal when Alston’s effort was diverted off the line by Tavernier.

Will Vaulks’ nullfying of Nicky Law’s impact saw the Rangers man replaced by Harry Forrestor and Kernny Miller – who had stabbed the ball into the net but was ruled offside just after the break – was substitugted for Billy King. Falkirk, in response, brought on Tom Taiwo for McGrfandles and Sibbald moved further up to support Baird. The 20-year-old had looked livelier than previous outings and Falkirk’s intricate passing suited his game and was playing Rangers at their own – and excelling..

Will Vaulks zipped a long-range strike narrowly wide of Foderingham’s post after a Craig Sibbald breakaway with ten minutes to go, and though the Bairns looked comfortsable they had been similar at this stage earlier in the season and lost that game to a late strike.

And so it was to be again.

The home fans were restless as 90 minutes approached but King’s late intervention erupted Ibrox, and flattened Falkirk.