No pain in the rain for Bairns

Rhys Bennett and Ivan Sproule
Rhys Bennett and Ivan Sproule
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Falkirk were dripping with class as they dominated the first half of this keenly-contested and rain-soaked friendly.

but hopes of a win were later washed away against their Premier League opponents.

The Bairns were leading for the majority of the match following Rhys Bennett’s fourth minute goal and such was their superiority in the opening stages they should have at least doubled that advantage.

Hibs looked like a different side in the second half and could easily have snatched victory if new Falkirk keeper Michael McGovern had not been in such inspired form.

The Northern Irish stopper produced several excellent saves to deny a string of Hibs players including a superb block from Matt Thornhill, who looked on in disbelief after his powerful drive from the edge of the box failed to find the net.

Bairns gaffer Steven Pressley declared himself satisfied with his team’s performance on a night when the elements threatened to overshadow any football on offer.

The heavens opened ten minutes before kick-off and the entire first-half was played in monsoon-like conditions.

Falkirk found their feet quicker than their opponents on the greasy surface and soon made the Edinburgh side’s hesitancy pay.

Hibs keeper Mark Brown pulled back from taking a low Faird Allagui cross as it bounced across the six-yard line, a decision that startled Scott Taggart.

The young defender had time to clear with no Bairns player near but instead rashly scooped the ball out.

Rhys Bennett was at the back post to gratefully nod the ball into the net from Mark Millar’s corner.

Kallum Higginbotham and Farid Allagui were finding plenty of room in the middle of the park and the duo were regularly linking to cause Hibs’ centre-backs problems.

Less than ten minutes after Bennett’s opener Allagui thought he had added another after he stole in behind Ian Murray to slot home Higginbotham’s inch perfect cross.

The assistant referee quickly flagged for offside but given the reaction of the crowd many obviously thought it was the wrong decision.

Falkirk were looking sharp and continued to get the ball forward with pace and purpose.

Blair Alston showed great strength to shrug off the attentions of Ian Murray and fire in a low drive from the edge of the box which Brown could only parry to safety.

The Bairns tired in the second half as Hibs began to take control.

The introduction of Paul Hanlon and Sean O’Hanlon strengthened the Edinburgh sides’ defence, allowing the impressive full-back Callum Booth to make more forward runs down the flanks.

Garry O’ Connor forced the first of several stops from Michael McGovern and Matt Thornhill had a shot deflected wide.

Falkirk still posed a threat however, and substitute Ally Graham spurned a glorious chance when he was presented with a free header only yards from goal.

Hibs piled on the pressure in the last twenty minutes of the game but came up short against a well-drilled defence and a goalkeeper in great form.

The line was finally breached following a low corner from sub Scott Smith which was cleverly dummied by De Graff, allowing Paul Hanlon time and space to rifle the ball into the net with less than ten minutes remaining.

A draw was the right result given both sides’ dominance of either half, but it will be Falkirk who will feel they were the better side and travel to Brechin with renewed optimism.