On a night notable for Falkirk’s two previous captains returning to face their former club, it was the current custodian of the Bairns armband, Jordan McGhee, who stole the show with a sublime display against Ayr United.
McGhee, still only 22 years of age, opened the scoring with a strike that admittedly owed more to fortune than finesse, with a misjudged cross skewing over the head of Ayr keeper Ross Doohan and into the net.
If his opener was ridiculous, then his second was sublime.
The ex-Hearts defender latched on to a deep delivery from Tommy Robson on the edge of the box and unleashed a ferocious drive beyond Doohan, despite the young goalkeeper getting his fingertips to the effort.
McGhee’s heroics ensured Aaron Muirhead and Mark Kerr, his immediate predecessors as Falkirk skipper, endured an eminently forgettable return to their old stomping ground and lifted the Bairns three points clear of the drop-zone.
As Falkirk dare to tentatively look up the table, Ayr’s malaise is now startling. They have won just two of their last 13 games to see their title charge evaporate and, barring an upturn in form, their playoff berth could soon be under threat.
Ian McCall will rue the uncharacteristic profligacy of Lawrence Shankland in the opening exchanges. The striker, with 31 goals this term, set the tone for a maddening night after three minutes when he lashed a Calvin Miller cut-back wildly over the bar from ten yards.
Following McGhee’s brace, the Honest Men attempted to battle back into the contest as Andy Murdoch rippled the side-netting following more excellent work from Celtic youngster Miller.
While Doohan endured a difficult evening, arguably failing to do himself justice on either goal, his opposite number, Harry Burgoyne, was magnificent.
The 22-year-old, on loan from Wolves, was on hand to make sharp stops to deny Murdoch and Shankland in the second half, dimming any glimmer of an Ayr comeback.
On the sole occasion the Falkirk rearguard was breached, the flag of assistant referee Euan Birch came to the rescue, disallowing a late volley by Shankland.