AFTER hitting a rough patch at the turn of the year, Falkirk are now firmly back on the path to promotion following this comfortable victory against bottom-placed Alloa.
Peter Houston’s side have now won three of their last four, remain undefeated in five, and moved up to second in the table two points ahead of Hibs, having played a game more.
Those debating whether Hibernian would be strong enough to defeat top tier opposition in the Premiership play-off final would do well to respect the threat of Falkirk, who are stubbornly refusing to leave, having gatecrashed the promotion party some months ago.
“There’s a bit of pressure on us now to take advantage of Hibs having a couple of games off,” said Houston. “The most important thing was to win today and I thought we won fairly convincingly. I think our success this season is in working hard as a team. We don’t always play well but you can never fault the lads for application shown.”
The heavy pre-match favourites should have opened the scoring inside ten minutes when David McCracken powered a header towards goal. This created an al-mighty scramble inside the six-yard box, with the ball twice blocked on the goal-line before being cleared.
After a chance for Blair Alston was saved by the onrushing Scott Gallacher, Falkirk found their way through in the 28th minute. Craig Sibbald lofted a terrific through ball for Robert McHugh, who had his effort saved by Gallacher. From the resulting corner Paul Watson planted Alston’s whipped cross into the back of the net.
The hosts then doubled their advantage with a terrifically worked goal. McHugh received the ball down the left before switching play and crossing for Alston. The midfielder cushioned the ball perfectly into the path of Mark Kerr, who opened up his body and curled a superb effort into the top corner from 20 yards.
Alloa should have cut the deficit just before half-time. Mitch Megginson was in the right place to benefit from a Sibbald tackle that saw the ball ricochet into his path. However, he dallied too long trying to round Danny Rogers, and hit the side netting from an acute angle.
The second-half action began with an inexplicable miss from McHugh, who headed over from four yards. This theme continued in the remainder of the match with Falkirk failing time and again to put the game beyond doubt. Soon after, Watson came close when he headed Luke Leahy’s corner off the post. The ball rebounded off Gallacher but spun to a halt just before it crossed the line.
Sibbald then failed to convert a one-on-one with the Alloa keeper before being denied moments later when Dougie Hill deflected his shot from 12 yards away for a corner. Substitute Lee Miller was then denied by a superb, goal-saving overhead kick from Jason Marr.