Scorers: Falkirk; Loy 53; Sibbald 70; Alston 118, QoS; McHugh 36
Score at 90 mins: 2-1
Falkirk win 4-3 on aggregate and play Hamilton Academical in the semi-final
Falkirk started a goal down, slipped further behind but roared back and snatched a dramatic winner just two minutes from the end of extra time to set up a play-off semi-final with Hamilton Accies and the right to earn a shot at a clearly vulnerable Hibs with promotion to the Premiership at stake.
Bob McHugh grabbed a double in the first leg to give Queen of the South a 2-1 advantage to cling to in this return and the on-loan Motherwell striker added another to give Jim McIntyre’s side a two-goal cushion. But it was not to prove enough as Falkirk completed a storming comeback in the most stunning of fashions.
Rory Loy, who missed the first leg through injury, scored shortly after the interval and set up the second for Craig Sibbald before Blair Alston sent the home side into raptures, with penalties looming.
“The game was a great advert for the play-offs,” said Falkirk manager Gary Holt, who admitted his side were running on empty by the end and will be at a distinct disadvantage against a Hamilton team who were idle yesterday. “We are in the next round of it and hopefully we can get a positive result on Tuesday to take into Sunday.
“The euphoria and togetherness between the fans and the players will go a long way. We just have to recover and go again.”
With a noisy crowd of nearly 4,500, the early pace was frenetic. Queens certainly needed to put their bodies on the line on a couple of occasions inside the first quarter to repel their determined hosts and the Dumfries outfit got the goal they craved at the other end ten minutes from the break.
Will Vaulks, who had penned a new two-year deal on the eve of the match, swiped at an attempted clearance and McHugh was clinical as he seized on the loose ball with a thumping first-time finish.
Just seven minutes into the second period, Falkirk got themselves right back into the tie. Stopper Jonny Flynn popped up on the left side of the area and pirouetted away from his marker and danced along the bye-line before cutting back into a crowded danger area, from where Loy swept home.
There was a hint of controversy about the goal which put Falkirk ahead on the day and level on aggregate with just over 20 minutes remaining. Queens defender Andy Dowie lay prostrate, injured on the edge of the box but referee Calum Murray did not stop play and eventually Loy’s left-wing cross was headed in off Zander Clark’s left-hand post by Sibbald.
The woodwork at the other end was also kind to the Bairns just three minutes later when Danny Carmichael’s excellent free kick from the left touchline evaded everyone and bounced off the upright.
Both teams had opportunities in extra time, none more so than Loy who was foiled as he tried to round Clark after being played in by Alston.
But Falkirk continued to pile forward as the legs tired and, with just two minutes remaining, summoned up a winner. Substitute Scott Shepherd injected some energy into an attack and his cutback from the bye-line was turned in by Alston steaming in at the near post.
Doonhamers manager Jim McIntyre said: “When it’s that late you do think it’s going to penalties. It was a real sore one because I thought if one team was going to nick it, it was going to be us. The players have been immense.”