Monday verdict: Falkirk give fans performance they’ve been craving for months
For 60 minutes of this match, this was the type of performance that Falkirk fans had been hoping to see from their side for months.
Not since January 6, 2018, when the Bairns dismantled Dundee United 6-1 at the Falkirk Stadium, has the team threatened to rack up such a scoreline – never mind actually do it – and, like that day, everything just seemed to click into place.
They were helped by a poor Dumbarton side – a team that has now conceded 19 goals in five games – and gift wrapped Falkirk the opening goal on Saturday. A second goal quickly followed and that allowed the hosts to play with an uninhibited freedom, some good quality players to express themselves on the park, and strikers, in the mood to score goals, to take advantage.
Declan McManus took home the match ball for his hat-trick but it was his strike partner Conor Sammon who was unplayable and was also on the scoresheet. The Republic of Ireland cap has taken a few weeks to get up to speed, but there was clear evidence of his physicality and predatory instincts, which will cause a number of teams at this level problems.
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He opened the scoring after seven minutes, showing good pace and power to get past McGeever, after McManus had charged down Neill’s clearance, thundering a shot into the roof of the net. Four minutes later Falkirk doubled their lead. Great play down the left involving Dixon, Telfer and Tidser enabled the former Morton man to swing in a cross, Doyle headed back across and McManus angled a header into the corner.
Sammon was involved the third, neat footwork with a stepover to get past his man to square for McManus who had a simple tap-in and the pair have built up a good understanding already.
“He’s a very good player,” McManus said of Sammon, “who has played at a high level so that makes it easy for me to get on the same wavelength. He’s really good, he talks you through it and he has a lot of experience. He tries to help you throughout the game, it helps massively.”
The game was over as a contest after 34 minutes but Falkirk weren’t finished there.
The fourth goal was arguably the pick of the bunch, after receiving Telfer’s pass, Tidser showed the imagination, flair and creativity sorely missing last season, when he lifted the ball over the top of the Dumbarton defence, Telfer had already made the run from deep in behind and he finished with aplomb with a half-volley beyond Brennan.
Bairns goalkeeper Cammy Bell showed the importance of having a good goalkeeper even when the team’s utterly dominant, saving Joe McKee’s spotkick after Sammon had fouled in the box, before 60 seconds later, McManus completed his hat-trick getting the last touch to Buchanan’s effort to guide it past Brennan.
Sammon rounded off the scoring, after good play by Doyle down the right, to ghost in front of his man and guide the ball into the roof of the net.
There will be more trickier tests to come but Falkirk passed this one with flying colours.