Falkirk lay the foundations with fine first-half performance

Falkirk crafted and constructed a table lead-stretching victory on the strength of their fine first-half performance on Saturday at home to Peterhead.

By Ralph Mellon
Saturday, 5th December 2020, 10:21 pm
Conor Sammon is congratulated by his colleagues after putting Falkirk 2-0 up against Peterhead on Saturday at Falkirk Stadium, just a whisker away from half time (picture by Michael Gillen)
Conor Sammon is congratulated by his colleagues after putting Falkirk 2-0 up against Peterhead on Saturday at Falkirk Stadium, just a whisker away from half time (picture by Michael Gillen)

The Bairns were two goals up by half time after creating numerous chances, the last of which was converted by Conor Sammon just seconds from the half time whistle.

They had also missed a handful of other good opportunties, while Peterhead ‘keeper Joshua Rae denied them with several impressive saves.

Peterhead served up little of note in the first half, although faint indications that they might be starting to gain a foothold were stomped on by Sammon’s goal.

It was a different tale in the second half, however, as Peterhead played a lot better and frustrated their hosts, who missed a few more opportunities to make it 3-0.

Substitute Lyall Cameron ensured a nervous last quarter of an hour or so for the home side with a marvellous shot into the top left hand corner of the net when little danger seemed to be beckoning.

But Falkirk kept them just about at arms’ length and increased their advantage at the summit of League One, where results elsewhere also did them a favour.

The early action wasn’t wholly inspiring to watch but Callumn Morrison and Sean Kelly each brought fine saves out of Rae with menacing right-foot shots in the opening few minutes.

An 18th-minute volley on the turn from Anton Dowds provided Rae with an even more dangerous test but the ‘keeper coped extremely well, while Gary McKenzie of Peterhead headed over the bar at the oppostie end.

The goal which Falkirk had been threatening arrived after 25 minutes and was assisted by Charlie Telfer, who’d been having a fine game. An attacking move down the right saw him cross the ball to find Blair Alston in a good position and the former St Johnstone man hammered decisively past Rae.

Falkirk then started to inhabit the Peterhead goalmouth region with more frequency and increasing threat – but then a couple of free kicks in a few minutes for the visitors broke the rhythm and allowed the Blue Toon to float tricky balls into Falkirk’s box. From the first came a fine left-foot shot on the half-volley from Steven Boyd, which Peter Morrison saved. Then the Falkirk defence cleared after Morrison had gone for a high ball and narrowly missed it.

Another attacking move by Peterhead was quashed by an offside decision shortly before the break – and it was then that Jim Mcinally’s side conceded another goal. Telfer was again the supplier, putting Conor Sammon through on the left hand side of the box for an easy counter.

The game restarted with Josh Todd on for Falkirk in place of Morgaro Gomis. Both the home number 14 and Steven Boyd of Peterhead had exchanged angry glares and been spoken to by referee Peter Stuart after a difference of opinion over a decision against Falkirk in the first half.

Falkirk threw away a couple more excellent opportunities to score a third goal which might have ended the game as a contest. Kelly sent a shot from a tight angle across the face of the goal after a lay-off from Alston, which went out for a corner. Rae blocked another Falkirk effort on the line from the resulting kick.

After 53 minutes, Sammon picked up a loose ball and charged through the middle to unleash a shot whch was well saved by Rae. Morrison should have scored from the rebound but blasted over the bar.

Peterhead responded with a very close miss of their own a couple of minutes later, when Alan Cook put the ball wide from close range after a cross from the right.

Again, fine play for a spell by Peterhead was almost dashed by a third goal for Falkirk – this time after 71 minutes, as Alston's cross from the right was headed against the bar by Dowds, although Rae looked to have got a fingertip touch.

A slick move by Falkirk after 76 minutes deserved a goal but produced a fine double save from Rae. Dowds hit a great pass with the outside of the right boot to Sammon, who charged through the middle and powered in a shot which Rae saved, while he also blocked Morrison's attempt from the rebound.

From almost out of nowehere, however, Peterhead grabbed a deserved goal the 77th minute. The ball had come over from the left into a crowded box but the threat looked minimal as it looked to have been cleared, only for substitute Lyall Cameron to fire in a superb right-foot shot from just outside the area to make it 2-1.

It was an unsettling last spell for Falkirk as Peterhead looked for an equaliser, with sub Leitch and Morrison both cautioned for time wasting.

Probably the best chance for another Falkirk goal came with only a couple of minutes of normal time to go. Sub Aidan Connolly found himself completely free and unmarked in yards of space to collect a cross from the right from Morrison, but steered his shot across the face of the goal when he really should have scored.

Falkirk nevertheless held on and, despite the discomfort Peterhead inflicted on them in the second half, were deserved winners.

Falkirk – Morrison, Mercer, Dixon, Hall, Alston, Dowds (Leitch 78), Gomis (Todd 45), Sammon, Telfer (Connolly 60), Kelly, Morrison. Subs not used – Cantley, Durnan, Francis, Deveney, Laverty, Miller.

Peterhead – Rae, Freeman, Conroy, Brown, McKenzie (Lyle 70), McCarthy (Cameron 74), Bailey, Brown, Fraser, Boyd, Cook. Subs not used – Wilson, Bakar, Kesson.

Referee – Peter Stuart.