Rocket man Rodgers in dream debut

ROSS COUNTY............................ 1 FALKIRK............................ 2

Bairns scorers: McQuilken (31), Rodgers (85)

Falkirk: Hogarth 3, Lawrie 2, McQuilken 4, Rennie 2, Wilkie 2, Christie 2 (McStay 53) 2, McAllister 3 (Rodgers 76) 3, Morris 2, Miller 3 (Waddell 67) 1, Mair 2, Craig 2. Not used: Pearson, Hill. Booked: McQuilken, Mair, Craig, Rodgers. Att: 2,184.

A CHANCE that Kevin McAllister would probably have buried a few seasons back heralded a first glimpse for Falkirk fans of yet another top youngster off the Brockville youth scheme conveyor belt.

With 15 minutes left at Victoria Park and Falkirk grimly hanging on for a point at 1-1, Steven Craig made a good run into space on the right and pulled the ball across goal. It was in that no-man s land between keeper and Crunchie, but the wee man had run himself to a standstill by that time and just didn t have the energy to get there.

A minute later he made way for Andy Rodgers, and in the 14 minutes he was on the park in his first team debut the youngster set up a golden chance that Ricky Waddell passed up, then rocketed home a

glorious winner.

Five minutes from time Garry McStay was fouled just inside halfway, and when Steven Rennie punted the ball into the box a melee of bodies went up to try and meet it.

The ball dropped to the right side of the box and Rodgers hit a fantastic volley into the opposite top corner for an absolute belter of a goal. He was then engulfed in a sea of yellow as his team-mates went mad, and if he d managed to run much further in his celebration dash towards the Falkirk fans it s likely he would have been drowned in adulation by the Bairns cheerleaders who had made the trip north.

''I didn t even expect to be on the bench, said Rodgers. ''I thought I was coming up just to be part of the squad.

''They had us under a lot of pressure in the second half and it looked only a matter of time before they scored, but when we got the free-kick late on I just saw the ball up in the air and hit it first time. I didn t have time to take a touch.

He scored two crackers last Tuesday for the Under-18s as they beat Motherwell in the SPL Youth Cup, and it was no surprise that with Paul Wright out injured Rodgers was drafted in.

He still has a bit of filling out to do and will likely get battered around a bit by hardened defenders, but there s no doubt he s one to watch out for.

You can t teach players how to be in the right place in terms of poaching goals, it s down to natural ability and he s got it.

The goal that gave Falkirk a first half lead was a cracker too, straight off the training ground. Craig was hauled down 25 yards out and with Crunchie standing with his back to goal in front of the ball and hands up, Ian Morris ran from the left then Jamie McQuilken came in from the right and curled a pinpoint

left-footer into the top corner.

But the goals apart Falkirk were a shade lucky to leave Dingwall with all three points, and but for a

couple of great saves from Myles Hogarth they wouldn t have.

Apart from McQuilken the defence looked nervous throughout, and in the second half Hogarth had to bail them out with a brilliant leap to tip over a Bone shot, and an even better one to dive low to his left to tip a Hislop shot onto the post.

Having played much better against Partick and Airdrie in recent weeks and ended up with nothing, the Bairns undoubtedly got the breaks this time round.

''The players were the first to admit that they didn t play well, said Alex Totten. ''We knew we d be under pressure and that s how it worked out, and while we know we can play much better it was a brilliant three points to get. It was a fantastic debut for young Andy to come on and score the winner. Myles did well for us too. He s taken a bit of stick in the last couple of games but he made vital saves in the second half that kept us in it. STUART ANDERSON