They say all good things must come to an end, but this was surely not the manner in which Inverness Caley Thistle envisaged witnessing their 25-match unbeaten record in the league to come crashing down.
A defence lauded for solidity this season made three basic errors for each of the goals conceded to a Falkirk side all too ready to capitalise.
Ray McKinnon, the Falkirk manager, declared his team’s revival up-and-running after Scott Harrison’s dramatic last-gasp winner.
“It is always a good feeling to score the winning goal in the very dying seconds of the game,” McKinnon said. “It was a tough game for us, but we had a gameplan – and the players delivered it perfectly.
“The guys are buying into how we play and working extremely hard. I know it has taken us a while to get to this standard, but I’m delighted.”
A first half that opened so brightly for Inverness somehow turned troublesome through defensive lapses. With only five minutes gone, Liam Polworth’s pass sent Tom Walsh racing into the away penalty area and he executed the crispest of low finishes to put the hosts ahead.
Caley Thistle seemed to be brimming with confidence and were moving the ball slickly, but Zak Rudden served warning with a speculative attempt from distance after 11 minutes. Home keeper Mark Ridgers held that one with ease, but four minutes later he was picking the equaliser out of his net.
Deimantas Petravicius seemed to be posing only mild danger on the far right of the penalty box, but when the Lithuanian whipped a long ball across he found Rudden unmarked to beat a hesitant Ridgers.
Again, after 36 minutes, home attacking momentum was punctured by defensive slackness. A long punt forward found Rudden on the left as he turned inside Shaun Rooney and struck hard through Ridgers’ grasp from the angle.
But the hosts were level after 61 minutes. Liam Polworth’s corner flew to the back of the box where defender Rooney thumped a strong header goalward. The alert George Oakley managed the slightest of head-flicks on it to nestle the ball in the far corner of the net.
Just when it seemed Inverness were heading for a 26th game unbeaten in the league, Paul Paton’s long free kick spun across a crowded six-yard box and Scott Harrison applied the touch for a winner.
Home manager John Robertson stressed: “I can understand the frustration of the fans. I’m disappointed for the players because they didn’t deserve to lose their great unbeaten record today.
“We should be sitting here with three points but for a failure to take chances at one end and mark properly at the other.”