St Mirren 2 Falkirk 3: Bairns battle back

12-09-2015. Picture Michael Gillen. PAISLEY. St. Mirren Park. SPFL Championship. St Mirren F.C. v Falkirk F.C.
12-09-2015. Picture Michael Gillen. PAISLEY. St. Mirren Park. SPFL Championship. St Mirren F.C. v Falkirk F.C.

Falkirk fought back from two goals down to seize three points with the final kick of the ball.

It was the cliched game of two halves with the Bairns thoroughly abject in the first half, and terrific in the second.

After falling behind to Scott Agnew and Stevie Mallan goals, they battled back with a John Baird double and a header from left-back Luke Leahy.

The introduction of Lee Miller at half-time for Blair Alston made an significant difference to the Bairns after a miserable first half at Greenhill – but the second was a classic from the Bairns.

Earlier, they had handed St Mirren the lead almost immediately. Mark Kerr blocked a cross from the Saints right-wing to concede a corner and when Scott Agnew whipped the ball in Danny Rogers came to collect the cross. Only, he didn’t. The keeper waved at fresh air, the ball went through his arms and was knocked in on the line.

Who made the final touch was anyone’s guess. The stadium announcer gave it to Agnew, the set-piece taker. Bairns fans behind the goal suggested a navy blue shirt put it in.

Things didn’t improve much for a very flat Falkirk.

John Baird was being out-muscled by the towering Andy Webster, Keith Watson and Sean Kelly, and Paul McMullan’s direct running was causing all sorts of problems.

Peter Grant was fortunate to only be booked for a tackle from behind on the young on-loan Celtic player – and ex-Graeme High pupil – which ended his game five minutes later.

Grant couldn’t afford to make another rash challenge so when Stevie Mallan seized possession after mix-up between Paul Watson and Mark Kerr, the defender gave the Saint an easy passage through on Ropgers and he stroked home a second.

It had been a miserable first half and the introduction of Miller made a huge impact.

He barely lost possession, his flick-ons were telling and Webster and Watson were presented with a different proposition to baird’s haranguing.

The Bairns looked re-energised from the interval and were immediately on the attack.

Craig Sibbald’s half-volley deserved to find the top corner but was pushed out by Jamie Langfield in his first real test on the game.

Then the goalkeeper had to tip a Sibbald drive round the post as the Bairns upped the ante, but a goal was coming for the visitors in front of their travelling fans.

A Vaulks throw over Miller’s head fell nicely for Baird and he tee’d up Smith for a cross to the on-rushing Sibbald. It was too high for the man in the middle but leahy had ghosted in at the backpost and looped a header over Langfield to reduce the deficit.

St Mirren could have picked Falkirk off on the break, and Peter Houston made to change his midfield with Tom Taiwo tiring but Mark Kerr, already booked, receiving his final warning for a foul on Jim Goodwin saw young Ryan Blair replace Kerr, rathyer than Taiwo. It was a fortunate switch, not just in it avoided Kerr’s sending off, which looked likely in a tousy midfield battle, and nor for the composed performance of the replacement Blair.

The Bairns were going for the equaliser and it came when Tom Taiwo was bodychecked in the box by Sean Kelly. John Baird fired the penalty in and levelled the match. From here, the momentum was all with the navy blue and they sneaked all three points with the final kick of the game.

Great hold-up play from Craig Sibbald, tee’d up David Smith again and his low cross flashed across goal and was knocked in by Baird.

St Mirren had time to kick off before John Beaton blew the final whistle.