Dundee United 2 - 0 Falkirk: Defeat leaves Bairns in dire trouble

Falkirk boss Ray McKinnon insists he’s content to go to a final-day relegation showdown as six months ago that had seemed a forlorn hope.

Dundee United's Rachid Bouhenna scores to put the hosts ahead. Pic: SNS/Kenny Smith

McKinnon’s rock-bottom side are preparing for a nerve-shredding Championship climax as they trail second-bottom Alloa by three points.

Next weekend, the Bairns host newly-crowned champions Ross County, while Alloa travel to face Ayr United.

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Any chance of Falkirk making up the gap yesterday was snuffed out by second-top Dundee United, who prevailed through first-half goals from Rachid Bouhenna and Paul McMullan at Tannadice.

McKinnon, who replaced Paul Hartley as manager at the end of August, recalls still having no points on the board until October so is adamant the current scenario is something he would have gladly accepted back then.

“We would have probably taken this back in October,” he said. “We’re still in there fighting which is the most important thing.

“We’ve just got to be ruthless next week against Ross County and take our chances and hope results elsewhere go our way.”

Falkirk’s 2-0 defeat at home to Morton last Saturday put them back to the bottom of the Championship.

Visiting goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne came to the rescue after a quarter of an hour with a brilliant finger-tip save to deny Mark Reynolds’ looping header.

But there was nothing he could do to prevent the Tangerines from taking a deserved lead.

It was simple stuff as McMullan’s driven corner was met by Bouhenna, whose glancing header nestled in the far corner.

This was now a serious test of Falkirk’s mettle although they did have a glorious opportunity to equalise in 19 minutes.

Jordan McGhee’s cross was flicked on by Zak Rudden. Davis Keillor-Dunn should have levelled, but could only float his header over Benjamin Siegrist’s crossbar from point-blank range.

However, United made their outfield superiority count with a second goal on 25 minutes.

Pavol Safranko swept a low ball into the path of on-rushing McMullan who made it 2-0 with a crisp finish low past Burgoyne from 12 yards.

The visitors looked doomed but kept fighting. In 33 minutes, Thomas Robson crossed from the left and an instinctive volley from Keillor-Dunn was well-saved by Siegrist.

McKinnon’s side had nothing to lose after the break. But United remained on top and substitute Nicky Clark came close twice before Rudden saw his injury-time effort disallowed for offside.