It was hard to escape the overwhelmimg sense of relief from Falkirk after they emerged unscathed with three points to move them top of League One following their 2-0 victory over Forfar at Station Park.
It wasn’t the most convincing of displays, or the prettiest, but it was a hugely important victory for the Bairns, with both Raith Rovers and East Fife slipping up and a chance now to build momentum and stay there.
Forfar went into the game on the back of four straight defeats but given Falkirk’s away record – just one win in five league matches heading into this one – a tight ground with less space at Station Park, provided no comfort for the visitors.
It was a rather disjointed performance. Fans have previously accused McKinnon of being set up too defensively and not playing expansive football. However, despite making four changes to the team from the Clyde defeat, it was still another game where he had effectively four strikers on the park.
Mark Durnan grabbed his first goal in two years before the break before an own goal by Michael Travis towards the end sealed the points.
Durnan was lucky not to see red just before half-time and admitted he was too pumped up when he flew into a challenge on Dale Hilson whilst on a yellow card. Ultimately, had referee Kevin Graham saw that as a red, then it could have been a different game.
After that reprieve, the Bairns did have chances to wrap the match up. Ian McShane fired past early in the second half and Aidan Connolly missed the target on the break, but it was never completely comfortable for the visitors until Travis’ late intervention.
The pressure was building on the players and manager Ray McKinnon after they slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Clyde the week before, so if the result against Forfar hasn’t reduced the stress then it has bought some time at least.
That is a commodity though that has run out on Falkirk’s takeover deal with the news that the plug had been pulled on preferred bidder Mark Campbell’s bid just 24 hours before this game kicked off.
Strangely enough on the same day it was announced Westlife would be playing at the Falkirk Stadium next summer and it is now the Bairns who are looking for a better man (or woman) to take the club forward.
The collapse of the takeover deal seemed to place more emphasis on getting things right on the park on Saturday as there is a feeling amongst the support that with everything that has gone on in the past 18 months – Hartley debacle, tapping up of McKinnon, Dennon Lewis racism storm to give just a few examples, they are being made to look like a fool again.
With victory secured, thoughts turned to Airdrieonians at the Falkirk Stadium, a team in decent form and who have won their last three away games. Falkirk, though, should be in a world of their own at the top.