Peterhead 1 Falkirk 3: Monday Verdict - seconds out, round two as Bairns fight on in second half of League One campaign

Sports editor David Oliver looks back on a long, but worthwhile, trip for Falkirk and a move up the SPFL League One table in today's Monday Verdict.

Monday, 13th January 2020, 4:07 pm
Updated Monday, 13th January 2020, 4:12 pm
Players celebrate Declan McManus' hat-trick. Picture: Michael Gillen.
Players celebrate Declan McManus' hat-trick. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Three might be the magic number, but for Falkirk, two is proving not to too bad either.

Of course the three goals scored by Declan McManus put a sheen on the weekend and the SPFL standings, but in terms of numbers, two is very much working for Falkirk.

IN PICTURES: Fans who made the journeyTwo managers steering the Bairns into the top two in the Ladbrokes League One table, with two wins in a row – just the second time that feat has been achieved this league season.

Aidan Connolly is fouled for the spot-kick. Picture: Michael Gillen.

And all with Declan McManus’ second hat-trick this term – it’s all shaping up well for part two of season 2019-20. Next up, the second Scottish Cup tie of the season but Falkirk go into it feeling fine after this win at Peterhead.

YOUR VIEWS: Social media reaction to 3-1 winIt was won with a solid, unremarkable grip on the game – the manner that many would have expected the Bairns to be seeing out a run of the mill league fixture in the thick of League One’s schedule during normal circumstances. But after a dipping, inconsistent start to the season this quiet confidence has been warmly received.

Passages of play were recited from the training ground, replayed 200 miles north, and were pleasing to watch especially when one such move netted McManus, the Bairns, and the game’s second in a carefully crafted, and played out, attacking manouevere.

IN QUOTES: Managers' commentsTwo passes, involving three players were all that it took to prise open the Blue Toon’s defence for a side-footed finish by the striker after Michael Doyle’s burst forward to feed Charlie Telfer and a nimble step-over and lay-off teed up McManus’ 18th of the season.

Gregor Buchanan didn't wear his protective mask after all. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Doyle - Falkirk's number two - had his best game for a while, and was kept busy in the first half by both Derek Lyle and Rory McAllister out wide. He took an elbow in the throat for his troubles from the latter but it failed to silence or subdue him and the defence set the solid, sensible tone for the performance.

MATCH REPORT: David Oliver's on the whistle report from Balmoor StadiumEven Mark Durnan who thumped an own goal past Robbie Mutch continued to stick to the task after his blunder, and simply did the basics of defending – cutting out crosses even when they risked his second of the afternoon – backed up by Gregor Buchanan and the frequently retreating Gary Miller.

Lee Miller and David McCracken have stressed they “need everyone” in referring to their squad rotation which saw Conor Sammon restored to the side in place of David McMillan, but on the park everyone mucked in and went about their business well.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Live Matchday BlogSammon and McManus seem a natural foil for one another and it’s no shock his second treble of the season came alongside the Irishman who helped him to his first.

Mark Durnan scored an own goal. Picture: Michael Gillen.

And if two is proving a good number for the Bairns bosses at the minute, they’ll hope it stays that way with two weeks remaining of the transfer window and one half of the front two attracting admirers.

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Some 300 Bairns made the trip. Picture: Michael Gillen.
McManus struck his 14th league goal of the season, his 18th overall, from the spot. Picture: Michael Gillen.
Sub Robbie Leitch is closed down. Picture: Michael Gillen.
McManus netted after just nine minutes. Picture: Michael Gillen.
McManus celebrates. Picture: Michael Gillen.
Conor Sammon was restored to the starting XI. Picture: Michael Gillen.
It's another match ball for McManus. Picture: Michael Gillen.