Ray McKinnon targets Premiership as Falkirk sink to League 1

Falkirk fans direct their ire towards club chairman Margaret Lang and her board of directors. Picture: SNS.
Falkirk fans direct their ire towards club chairman Margaret Lang and her board of directors. Picture: SNS.
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Falkirk were relegated to League 1 despite beating champions Ross County 3-2 and Queen of the South will fight for Championship survival in the play-offs after losing 3-0 to Partick Thistle.

It was also a bizarre day off the field that has resulted in two clubs looking for new managers. Morton’s Jonatan Johansson walked away as fans turned up to watch their game with Dundee United while Doonhamers’ Gary Naysmith was sacked as his players lined up at their player-of the-season awards.

The Bairns finished bottom despite their defeat of the Dingwall men that began when Zak Rudden tapped them into the lead on 27 minutes after initially being denied by a post.

County’s Ross Stewart headed an equaliser on 58 minutes and Iain Vigurs drilled them in front 15 minutes later.

Falkirk rallied and quickfire goals by Ciaran McKenna and Jordan McGhee grabbed a hollow victory. Manager Ray McKinnon, determined to lead his club back up two divisions, said: “We desperately wanted to stay in the league but the points tally in the first half of the season has been a hindrance. We came up short and we are devastated. It is a horrible feeling and as a club we need to come up with a two-year plan to get to the 
Premiership.

“We need to stay together and have a real focus on making this club great again. We do not want to come back up and be an average Championship team, we want to be a team that can challenge to go up again.”

Partick Thistle ensured they would not be involved in the play-offs when they eased into sixth place with a 3-0 win at Queen of the South.

Lewis Mansell fired the Jags ahead at the second attempt on 14 minutes and Scott McDonald took advantage of a fortunate bounce to make it 2-0 just before half-time. Stuart Bannigan wrapped up the win from the penalty spot 17 minutes from time.

Queens manager Naysmith, below, attended the post-match press conference and was then present at the club’s annual prizegiving where he was informed that his services were not required for the play-offs that start against Montrose tomorrow night.

Players and supporters were stunned as Naysmith gave a short speech thanking them for their efforts. Former boss Allan Johnston and Airdrie manager Ian Murray are already linked with the post.

Morton’s Johansson did not even get to take his team for the game against Dundee United that ended in a 1-0 win for the Greenock club.

The Finn and his assistant Peter Houston left an hour before kick-off after a discussion with chairman Crawford Rae which focused on not playing midfielder Charlie Telfer in a bid to avoid triggering a new contract. The discussion ended with the duo being informed that their contracts would not be renewed, and experienced players Jim McAlister and Chris Millar took charge. Michael Tidser hit the only goal with a terrific first-half free-kick to secure an unlikely win.

Former Livingston boss David Hopkin emerged as an early favourite to become the new manager. Houston said: “The chairman came and apologised but said we couldn’t play this player. He then told us that because of cost-cutting they wouldn’t be renewing the clause in our contracts.”

Alloa retained their status with 1-1 draw at Ayr, who finished fourth. Connor Shieldsscored for the Wasps on 33 minutes and Lawrence Shankland equalised shortly afterwards.

Inverness secured a fairly run-of-the-mill 1-0 home win over Dunfermline, Nathan Austin capitalising on an error to hit a first-half winner.