FALKIRK forward Mark Beck removed Dundee from the top of the table and, afterwards, pledged that the newly-revived Bairns are focused on mounting their own fight for the Championship.
Scorer: Falkirk - Beck 18
The on-loan Carlisle attacker struck with a decisive first-half header which effectively sunk the Taysiders and moved Falkirk to within six points of new league leaders Hamilton as the race for the title took a fresh twist on Tayside yesterday.
Falkirk ought to have made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after the break, only for Dundee goalkeeper Kyle Letheren to foil Mark Millar.
But Beck believes Gary Holt’s youthful side have got what it takes to revive their faltering promotion push with just five games remaining.
“It’s going to go right down to the wire,” said Beck. “This shows we’ve got the bottle for the fight. Every team normally has a blip but hopefully we can kick on. The boys are buzzing after that. The mood is one where we’re looking forward to the run-in.”
Craig Beattie came in for his first start since mid-December as he replaced Nicky Riley.
That was the only change for the league leaders following their narrow 1-0 win over Queen of the South earlier in the week which had kept them in pole position.
Falkirk arrived on Tayside on the back of their 3-0 defeat away to Alloa the previous weekend. But it was Dundee who began brightest and came close to making the breakthrough after just one minute.
On-loan Dundee United midfielder Mark Millar fouled Peter MacDonald as he advanced towards goal.
Up stepped MacDonald whose free kick looked destined for Michael McGovern’s bottom corner, until it curled just inches wide of the target.
Their next chance came in 11 minutes when MacDonald rose well to meet Jim McAlister’s corner, but he saw his downward header cleared off the line by Millar.
However, the Bairns took a shock lead in 18 minutes. From Millar’s inswinging corner, the home defence stood static, and Beck duly rose unchallenged to power a header outwith the reach of Letheren and low into the net.
That served to stir up the hosts who should have levelled matters in 22 minutes. Again MacDonald was at the heart of things, slipping an inch-perfect pass through to Beattie.
The former Celtic and Scotland striker looked certain to equalise but fired straight at visiting ’keeper Michael McGovern who had raced off his line to narrow the angle.
A few minutes later, Beattie had another chance thanks to Martin Boyle’s sterling work down the right.
Boyle knocked the ball into Beattie but his shot from the edge of the penalty area was comfortably held by McGovern.
Then, in 36 minutes, Beattie missed a sitter to level things. Iain Davidson’s whipped cross was knocked down by MacDonald into the path of Beattie. Eight yards from goal, he dragged his effort wide.
Falkirk, at the other end, had a chance to increase their lead just two minutes before half-time. Rory Loy latched onto the ball just yards out but with only Letheren to beat, his shot was deflected wide.
Dundee had Letheren to thank for keeping them in the game with a penalty save in 60 minutes. Davidson’s clumsy tackle brought down Millar so left referee John McKendrick with no option but to point to the spot. Millar stepped up himself but was foiled as Letheren dived to his left to pull off a stunning save.
Dundee brought on both Christian Nade and Nicky Riley in a bid to haul themselves level. But the visitors stood strong towards the end in what could prove to be a significant day in the fight for the flag.
Falkirk manager Holt had nothing but praise for his players afterwards, saying: “They believed they could come here and get a result.
“It was something we had spoken about. I thought they were exceptional to a man.”
Dundee gaffer Paul Hartley, whose side now travel to face Hamilton next weekend, felt they should have been in a commanding position by the break. “It’s very frustrating,” he said. “I thought we could have killed it in the first half with the number of chances created.”