Rangers 3 Falkirk 1: Houston rages at ref

03-10-2015. Picture Michael Gillen. GLASGOW. Ibrox Stadium. Rangers FC v Falkirk FC, SPFL Ladbrokes Championship. Will Vaulks 6 goal.
03-10-2015. Picture Michael Gillen. GLASGOW. Ibrox Stadium. Rangers FC v Falkirk FC, SPFL Ladbrokes Championship. Will Vaulks 6 goal.

Will Vaulks’ stunner couldn’t stop Falkirk going down in the clash of the Championship’s top two.

The Bairns’ versatile vice-captain struck a stunning half volley to level the scores after 17 minutes, and the battling Bairns had a point within their grasp until late in the second half.

They had fallen behind within three minutes but rallied, eventually going down to a James Tavernier free-kick. Lee Wallace rubbed salt into the wounds with a third in stoppage time as the Bairns sought the equaliser.

Peter Houston was furious at the decision to award the free-kick for Rangers’ second goal and the ramifications went on long after the strike and beyond the 90 minutes.

Houston has also been reported to the SFA for his p0rotests by ref John McKendrick, who oversaw the game and infuriated both sets of dug-outs.

The first half was only 168 seconds old when Rangers were ahead.

The home side had already threatened but had another stab at it and a neat one-two between Barrie McKay and DFean Shiels was finished by the Northern Irishman.

It was far too easy but, rather than crumble as they had previously at losing goals, it fortified the Falkirk backline and they stood firm for the remainder of the half.

And from then on, it was even fare.

Rangers were up in Falkirk’s face any time a white shirt had possession and before long Falkirk were responding in kind. It was breathless stuff and the Bairns efforts were rewarded on 17 minutes when John Baird won a corner.

Craig Sibbald’s set-piece looked a little heavy, but it was measured perfect for Peter Grant’s header. The centre-half knocked the ball away from goal and lurking, unmarked, was Will Vaulks who screeched a stunning volley into the top corner of the net from between 25 and 30 yards.

It was a wonderful strike from the Englishman and Falkirk took heart and battled for possession from the front and were a match for the runaway league leaders.

Danny Rogers had little to do after picking the ball out of his net, claiming a couple of crosses but he was on his toes to tip over a point blank effort from Jason Holt. It was a vital, and instinctive stop from the goalkeeper who has come under fire from the Bairns support, but he came to their rescue in this instance.

Likewise Foderingham was relatively untroubled too save for a few efforts sailing wide of his goal. All the play was concentrated in the congested midfield.

It was a different story in the second half when Falkirk were penned back in their own defensive third for long spells. Still they held out though.

Danny Rogers made a great save at his near post to deny Martyn Waghorn who had peeled wide to go one-on-one with Luke Leahy.

In a brief respite from the defensive duties the Bairns charged up the right wing with Craig Sibbald taking three players on and getting the better of them, but his pass inside to John Baird in support was followed by a weak strike by the frontman.

But Rangers got the better of the Bairns with a contentious free kick 20 yards out in the centre of the park.

Tom Taiwo was penalised for a fairly innocuous collision with Nicky Law and Tavernier swept in the set-piece. The Bairns were incensed and Baird picked up a caution for his protests, and the complaints lasted beyond a third goal and the 90th minute.

Falkirk pressed forward and Vaulks could have had a second but for Kiernan’s deflection to send a shot over from ten yards. There was a minor scuffle before the set-piece was delivered and Falkirk kept up the pressure but they were picked off on the break.

Kenny Miller rounded Danny Rogers and stroked the ball at goal, but Mark Kerr sliced off the line.

It had been a battle worthy of the top two in the Championship but the scoreline looks far more favourable for the leaders than the overall play suggested as Lee Wallace swept in a third for Rangers in stoppage time.