Despite what was regarded as an acrimonious parting of ways when Peter Houston left the Dundee United dugout in January 2013, the Falkirk manager resisted the temptation to milk a dramatic late victory over his old club last night.
The Bairns were renowned for their late rallies last season as they clinched a second place finish in the Championship. And they did it again against United as two goals in the final three minutes sealed a 3-1 victory.
The match appeared to be heading for a stalemate after Tope Obadeyi cancelled out John Baird’s opener before the break.
But just like an adroit long-distance runner, Falkirk, who leapfrog United into fourth, left enough in the tank to produce a strong finish.
Myles Hippolyte netted in the 87th minute with an effort that took a deflection off William Edjenguele before substitute Lee Miller powered in a header two minutes later.
“That finish doesn’t surprise me,” said Houston, who went on to lament the lack of a first-half penalty when United goalkeeper Cammy Bell clattered into Bob McHugh.
“One of the things we’ve spoken about in here is getting back to the things we’re good at and what got us that success we had last season.”
Was the victory any sweeter given it was against United? “No,” replied Houston. “I’ve very fond memories of Dundee United, I won the cup and you don’t forget these things.”
Falkirk opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Baird rose above United defender Frank van der Stuijk and glanced Tom Taiwo’s sumptuous cross beyond Bell from six yards.
But United levelled in the 33rd minute thanks to their double Dutch. Van der Stuijk’s pass found compatriot Nick van der Velden and the winger’s enticing low cross was bundled into the net from close range by Obadeyi.
The hosts, however, claimed the points following a dramatic finish that saw two goals in two minutes.
Hippolyte was credited with the second in the 87th minute but his close-range effort from James Craigen’s cross came off the leg of United defender Edenguele.
United were still picking themselves up off the canvas when substitute Lee Miller powered home a header from Hippolyte’s cross.
Three injury-enforced substitutions and Charlie Teller having to battle on with an ankle knock in the closing stages did not help United’s cause yesterday.
“It was a bit of a sucker punch losing the two goals at the end, so it was disappointing,” said manager Ray McKinnon.
“I don’t think over the piece we deserved to lose.”