Moutinho heaps the pressure on relegation rivals

FALKIRK forward Pedro Moutinho believes his side have increased the pressure on a number of their relegation rivals going into the post-split Clydesdale Bank Premier League fixtures.

The Bairns hauled themselves level on points with St Mirren at the foot with a 2-1 victory over the Paisley outfit at the Falkirk Stadium on Saturday.

After last weekend’s 1-0 triumph at Motherwell, it marked the club’s first back-to-back wins in almost two years and continued their resurgence under Steven Pressley.

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Moutinho struck in first-half stoppage time with a glorious 20-yard free-kick, before a Darren Barr header deflected off the back of former Falkirk striker Michael Higdon for the decisive second on 67 minutes. Buddies substitute Andy Dorman pulled one back from close range at the death but it was a deserved win for the hosts.

Falkirk, bottom for the majority of the season, are only behind St Mirren on goal difference and trail Kilmarnock by just a point ahead of the final five games of the campaign.

Pressley’s men also appear to have the edge from the split fixtures with three home games in a row. Moutinho said: “The result definitely helps us in trying to stay up. We knew it was a big game beforehand.

“St Mirren came trying not to get beaten, so we’ve now put a bit of pressure on them and on Killie as well. There are another maybe two teams not safe yet either.

“It’s the same thinking for us. We need to win our games and if we do that we’ll stay in the Premier League.”

John Potter was ruled to have brought down Moutinho by referee Dougie McDonald for the free-kick opener – a decision contested by the Saints skipper, who claimed the striker had played for it. The pair exchanged harsh words before the attacker dusted himself off and curled in a sweet right-footed free-kick over the wall and beyond Paul Gallacher.

Moutinho felt he tried to ride the defender’s challenge and admitted the foul was soft, but he claimed Falkirk were due a rub of the green from officials.

He added: “I thought the referee did really well. We’ve been having some dodgy decisions to say the least in the last few games and I think on Saturday he was spot on with his decisions. I’m not asking for us to be treated specially. We just want the same consistency. On Saturday, there were free-kicks against us and free-kicks against them for similar situations.”

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On his sixth goal of the season, the Portuguese said: “You aim for the top corner. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go there all the time, but luckily for us it did.”

Scott Arfield could have added gloss to the outcome eight minutes from the end but he skewed badly wide after being set up by the impressive Ryan Flynn.

St Mirren manager Gus MacPherson, who has lost right-back Jack Ross for the rest of the season with an ankle injury, wants a response in the important weeks to come. He added: “We didn’t play to the standards we know we are capable of reaching. We’ve got five games to show a reaction to that performance.”