Falkirk 1-0 Alloa Athletic: Signs good for Falkirk

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Falkirk were celebrating in more ways than one yesterday after beating Alloa on the day they added three new players.

Scorers: Falkirk - Loy 22

Craig Sibbald and Botti Biabi celebrate Falkirk's goal with scorer Rory Loy during yesterday's 1-0 win over Alloa. Picture: Gordon Fraser

Craig Sibbald and Botti Biabi celebrate Falkirk's goal with scorer Rory Loy during yesterday's 1-0 win over Alloa. Picture: Gordon Fraser

Rory Loy overcame an ankle knock that prevented him from training all week to score the only goal in a hard-fought encounter.

The Bairns remain three points adrift of the Championship play-offs following a run of six wins from seven matches in all competitions.

But there were other highlights at the Westfield, namely the half-time introduction of Mark Kerr, the youth academy graduate who left the club in 2003. Experienced midfielder Kerr, who was released by fellow play-off contenders Queen of the South, and freed Partick Thistle defender Aaron Muirhead were both named on the bench after their signings were confirmed just hours prior to kick-off.

After the match, Bairns manager Peter Houston also revealed that he has registered towering English striker Taylor Morgan on a six-month loan deal from Swedish side Ostersunds FK. “We’ve got a couple of signings but there will be another two coming in,” said Houston.

“Billy Reid [Ostersunds assistant manager] put [Morgan] my way and we’ve had him in for a few weeks training.

“He’s a bit raw at times but a decent enough player. I hope to bring in another on Monday or Tuesday, with more experience up top.”

From his 45-minute second-half appearance, Kerr, 32, looks like he will provide invaluable experience to Falkirk during the duration of his 18-month deal. “I don’t think Mark Kerr gave the ball away once,” added Houston. “For him to become available, it was a no-brainer for me.”

The teams could have traded goals before Loy fired the Bairns ahead in the 22nd minute. Alloa goalkeeper Craig McDowall made a mess of his attempt to clear the ball as Botti Biabi bore down on him but Blair Alston lifted a 25-yard shot wide of the unguarded net. Alloa went close moments later but Daryll Meggatt’s header from a corner was headed off the line by Alston.

Loy, however, exhibited his predatory instincts to edge Falkirk ahead. Taking in a Craig Sibbald pass, the former Rangers forward had little room to manoeuvre in a congested box but Loy managed to dig out a shot that curled beyond the outstretched McDowall from 15 yards.

Jamie MacDonald was kept busy during a manic three-minute period that culminated in the Falkirk goalkeeper having to be substituted after he suffered a broken nose, although he was guilty of bringing much of it on himself. The former Hearts player was caught by Liam Buchanan as he tried to dribble past the forward from a David McCracken pass-back but Peter Grant sensed the danger and got back to clear the striker’s effort off the line.

After Loy had another chance deflected over by the back of Wasps captain Ben Gordon’s head, MacDonald then bravely got down at the feet of the advancing Grieg Spence. The keeper was left grounded with the facial injury but his pain was not compounded by an Alloa goal, with Buchanan lifting the loose ball well over the bar.

The half-time introduction of Kerr was warmly welcomed by the home fans but their side struggled to replicate the same level of intensity after the restart.

After Will Vaulks had a low drive from distance pushed away by McDowall, Alloa carved open a great chance. An exquisite left-footed Mark Docherty pass cleared the head of Falkirk centre-half McCracken but striker Spence nodded straight at substitute goalkeeper Graham Bowman from eight yards.

Falkirk went close again with a Grant header that was palmed over by McDowall before Alloa’s Ryan McCord dragged a right-footed shot wide inside the area in the dying stages. “We are creating chances and we’ve played well but we said the same last week and we can’t keep saying the same thing,” said Alloa manager Barry Smith. “We will be trying to add to the squad.”

Falkirk: MacDonald (Bowman 39), Duffie, McCracken, Vaulks, Tawio (Shepherd 69), Alston, Sibbald, P Grant, Leahy, Biabi (45), Loy. Subs not used: Muirhead, Smith, Dick, T Grant.

Alloa: McDowall, Docherty (Ferns 84), Gordon, Meggatt, Cawley, McCord, Spence, Holmes, Benedictus, Doyle, Buchanan (Tiffoney 62). Subs not used: Simmons, Marr, Hetherington, Couser.

Referee: G Salmond. Attendance: 3,690