ST MIRREN’S difficult start to the season reached a new low at Falkirk as they had two men sent off in a comprehensive defeat which has plunged them to joint second bottom of the table.
Jack Baird and Craig Reid were both dismissed for denying goal-scoring opportunities and while the Baird red card was harsh – a hand ball 30 yards out – the game was probably beyond them at that point.
Manager Ian Murray said: “We were two down when we got the first red card so we might not have got back in the game but it was a huge call for the referee and it was really harsh.
“It was the linesman who gave it but it was such a huge decision. We will appeal but hopefully the referee will look at it and change his mind.
“We now have three massive games: Hibs, Raith Rovers and Morton, which will decide if we are going to be in the play-offs or not.”
Conversely it was an excellent day for Falkirk who are right on Hibs’ tails at the top end of the table.
Craig Sibbald is more renowned for his creativity than his clinical finishing but it was the 20-year-old who gave Falkirk the lead in 18 minutes.
No one picked up the young midfielder as he burst into the box at the back post and connected with John Baird’s cross.
Jamie Langfield got a touch but could not stop the header flying into the net.
Then Baird scored the second two minutes before half-time with a great headed finish on Paul Watson’s ball into the box but the timing was desperately unlucky for St Mirren.
Andy Webster was forced to go off to change his shirt after cutting his head in a challenge with Baird and it was while he was off the field that Falkirk scored.
The fact that the former Scotland defender would have been marking Baird only exacerbated the pain for Ian Murray.
A tough day turned into an impossible one in 63 minutes when Baird was sent off and it seemed a very harsh call by Greg Aitken,
Bob McHugh tried to lob the ball over the Saints defender who used his hand to block it but he was 30 yards from goal and it didn’t seem he was denying a goal-scoring opportunity.
To add to their misery Will Vaulks scored a terrific third goal in 76 minutes when he cut in from the left and lashed a fantastic right foot shot into the right corner.
However, the pain was not over as St Mirren were reduced to nine men three minutes from time when Craig Reid, signed on an emergency loan from Motherwell, was sent off for pulling back Kevin O’Hara on the halfway line.
Falkirk assistant James McDonagh, deputising for banned boss Peter Houston, said: “Everything was the same for us other than the manager’s presence in the dugout and I felt it was a solid performance from us.
“The goals were well-worked and the third one was spectacular.”