Stranraer 1 Falkirk 0: Bairns not good enough

Peter Houston had a lot to say to his team at half-time and full-time
Peter Houston had a lot to say to his team at half-time and full-time

There was hardly a whimper as Falkirk left the Petrofac Training Cup in a muted 1-0 defeat at Stranraer.

The hosts were well on top in the first half as the visitors failed to show up.

After a half-time rollicking from Peter Houston they improved but not enough to defeat the Blues.

Luke Leahy and Craig Sibbald both hit the woodwork but the Bairns were not clinical enough and too many passes went astray.

It was their first visit to Stair Park ‘this century’ according to the matchday announcer. The last time the Bairns had arrived on the edge of Loch Ryan was 1999 when they left with a victory and progression in the Challenge Cup.

Falkirk could have had an early lead when Craig Sibbald had a shot cleared off the line by Frank McKeown after Alex Cooper had a shot blocked by David Mitchell.

The winger had a bitter sweet afternoon, turning in his best performance of the season despite passing up some great opportunities to equalise.

Carelessness started to fray along the edges of the Bairns play until they were ripped apart by Marenghi’s opener.

McCracken gave the ball straight to Steohen Stirling and had to race back to recover.

Passing too was not up to standrd and the long cross-field balls regularly rsn out, causing rory loy to have several disagreements with Will Vaulks over distribution.

Joe Shaughnessy had looked a classy addition to the Bairns but it was down his flank the goal came. Gibson fed a neat ball to Craig Malcolm who cleverly ran along the line to stay onside and hit the by-line. He cut back to Anthony Marenghi and the Bairns looked to have been given a reprieve as he struggled to dig the ball from his feet. But he did, and steered it into the corner of Jamie MacDonalds’s net.

Falkirk trie to respond to the 41st minute strike and almost equalised befre the break with some intricate play but Loy took the ball too close in and it was smothered by Mitchell.

The second half opened tamely and the Bairns made a change after 50 minutes with Alex Cooper subbed after a bump to the small of his back in the first half and replaced by Scott shepherd. He was soon joined by Rory Boulding as Peter Houston went for broke.

It should have paid off as the Bairns had a hatful of chances that they failed to take.

Sometimes they were over-elaborate and ran the ball too close too goal, other times it was just plain unlucky.

Craig Sibbald rattled the underside of the crossbar with a great drive from 25 yards deserved a goal, but was guilty of passing up two gilt-edged chances close in.

He also set Luke Leahy up for a shot that was tipped by the merest of touches onto the post by the goalkeeper, but ultimately that non-descript first half cost Peter Houston’s side dearly.