Stranraer 1 Falkirk 1: Monday Verdict - Bairns unlucky 13 with curse of the awards

Sports Editor David Oliver points out fate might have had a hand in Stranraer's hard-fought draw with Falkirk.

Monday, 3rd February 2020, 2:38 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 2:41 pm
Robbie Mutch. Pictures: Michael Gillen.

The omens were against Falkirk for the trip to Stranraer – but that didn’t make the disappointing draw any easier to take.

The manager of the month award is often cited as a curse and so it transpired as the Bairns turned in their flattest showing under management team David McCracken and Lee Miller.

The 1-1 draw did little to help their pursuit of Raith Rovers at the top of League One, but it did not derail the duo’s unbeaten run since assuming control of the team in November. Stranraer was their 13th match in charge.

Ryan Thomson scored the equaliser. Pictures: Michael Gillen.

There’s comfort to be taken though, that if this was the effects of fate and superstition and the perceived ‘awards curse’ then it could have been a lot worse.

Stranraer battled and were worthy of their point. Similar fight from them next week when they host Raith Rovers should even up matters at the top of the table, while Falkirk have Hearts in the William Hill Scottish Cup.

That’s an opportunity for the Bairns to restore their confidence they’d regained under Miller and McCracken and this is only the first bump in the road, and not enough to steer them off-course yet. Those awards, though apparently hampering, they were also well-deserved and just recognition for the turnaround in Falkirk’s fortunes.

There was nothing to say the Bairns bosses had got it wrong early on either. They picked a powerful team aimed at dealing with the conditions and the soaked surface. Balls were played into space to chase rather than stroked around and it wasn’t pretty, but it was effective in giving the Bairns a first half lead and they dominated the opening 45.

Pictures: Michael Gillen.

The pitch though was a leveller. The same for both teams of course and it broke up in equal measure - in Falkirk’s attacking half during the first 45 minutes and again after the turnaround in the second.

The problem was Falkirk were defending the terrible turf they’d churned up in the first and the home side took advantage – much more acclimatised to windy conditions and an awful park. Stranraer hadn’t played on their home turf since two days before Christmas and since then their form has improved, but they forced in a second-half goal for a point and could maybe have had more, though so could, and should the Bairns.

Josh Todd fired across goal in the first half when he should have tested Max Currie and then did likewise with an even better chance in the second half just after the hour-mark.

Two chances which usually would have been converted and though Falkirk pushed it seemed written in the stars this wasn’t going to be their day.

Aidan Connolly struck the opener. Pictures: Michael Gillen.

They were fortunate too though that it wasn’t more costly with Mark Durnan denying Ryan Stevenson a yard out in what would have been a bitter blow to league hopes in the Galloway gales.

Captain Gregor Buchanan. Pictures: Michael Gillen.
Josh Todd should have scored the Bairns' winner. Pictures: Michael Gillen.
Robbie Mutch. Pictures: Michael Gillen.
Captain Gregor Buchanan performs the customary full-time armband presentation. Pictures: Michael Gillen.