Falkirk 3 - 1 Morton: Bairns revival continues apace

Playing under the threat of relegation as recently as the turn of the year, victory lifted Falkirk to within seven points of an unlikely shot at promotion and just two short of rivals Dunfermline.
Alex Jakubiak celebrates netting Falkirk's third. Picture: Michael GillenAlex Jakubiak celebrates netting Falkirk's third. Picture: Michael Gillen
Alex Jakubiak celebrates netting Falkirk's third. Picture: Michael Gillen

It is a remarkable turnaround for the Bairns, who coasted to a seventh win from their last 11 league games courtesy of first-half goals from Aaron Muirhead, pictured, Andrew Nelson and Alex Jakubiak, before Gary Harkins nodded in an injury-time consolation for Morton.

Just last weekend, these sides were tussling with Glasgow’s big two, before succumbing to defeats in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals but the league campaign now harbours very different ambitions.

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For Falkirk, there is now the possibility of squeezing their way into the scrap for a promotion play-off place. Morton currently occupy one of those coveted top-four places, but this showing will have dented confidence they will remain there.

“We’ve just got to look at the next team ahead of us,” Falkirk manager Paul Hartley said cannily. “We can’t really be talking about play-offs, because you know what can happen; it can come back to haunt you.

“Our aim when we came in here was to try to get away from the bottom of the league and we’ve managed to do that. We’ve been on a really good run since the middle of December, our form’s really good, and we’ve just got to keep working hard between now and the end of the season.”

It took all of three minutes for things to fall apart for Morton. Rickie Lamie’s rash challenge on Nelson sent the on-loan Sunderland striker sprawling and Muirhead fired emphatically into the top corner from the spot.

Falkirk doubled their advantage in the 18th minute with a razor-sharp counter-attack. Louis Longridge, who had botched another opportunity moments earlier, dissected the Morton defence with a brilliantly-weighted pass and Nelson supplied a sublime clipped finish.

Nelson then chipped a fantastic effort off the bar before the Bairns effectively ended the contest on the half-hour mark. On-loan Watford striker Jakubiak was sharp to rob Lamie and composed to find the net via the post.

Jim Duffy will have sought an instant response from his side after the interval, but it was a comfortable second 45 minutes for Falkirk until injury-time when Harkins headed in a Michael Tidser corner.

“We weren’t in the races in the first half and Falkirk took full advantage of it,” said Duffy. “It’s as poor a performance as I can think we’ve had in a long, long time, both individually and collectively.”