Impressive Bairns held by Preston North End

Stewart Murdoch was in fierce competitive action in the midfield. Pic Lisa Ferguson
Stewart Murdoch was in fierce competitive action in the midfield. Pic Lisa Ferguson
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Falkirk shaped up well for the commencement of competitive football on Saturday with a 2-2 draw with Preston North End.

In an impressive performance the Bairns named Craig Sibbald and Farid Allagui in the team from the start and the Bairns were quick out the traps, hitting the net on 39 seconds. Blair Alston tucked the rebound in after Craig Sibbald’s shot had nutmegged David Lucas but spun into the midfielder’s path.

Falkirk were a marked improvement on the two previous pre-season performances against Leeds and Peterhead, and Sibbald also had a header go wide after taking up a good position.

Preston had a chance of their own though when Jamie Proctor rattled the top of the post with a fierce close range strike.

Chances then gave way to tackles as Mark Millar wrapped his legs around Darel Russell from behind - prompting a melee in the middle of the park. Moments later Stewart Murdoch was squaring up to Neil Mellor after another couple of crunchers in the midfield and the referee’s whistle for half-time brought a welcome calm to proceedings before they boiled over. But even Brian McLean, a former Bairn, was squaring up to Dods at the restart after Tam Scobbie went down clutching his back at a corner. Defender Matthew Flynn moved to left back and found the net on 68 minutes, ramming in a Mark Millar free-kick that had been nodded down by Dods.

Kallum Higginbotham then went close with a dribble through four players and a stroked shot that trickled just wide.

With ten minutes to go Flynn handled in the box at Danny Devine’s header and Jamie Proctor stroked home the penalty, sending Michael McGovern the wrong way. Sub George Miller sent a good effort just wide from 30 yards late on as thunder descended on The Falkirk Stadium.

Conor McLauchlin fired a late goal beyond McGovern with two minutes to go to take the gloss off a positive performance for the Bairns.

Falkirk: McGovern, Duffie, Scobbie (Wallace 60), Dods, Bennett (Flynn 46), Murdoch, Alston (J. Fulton 46), Millar, Allagui (Graham 46), Higginbotham, Sibbald. Att: 901 (118)