Bairns Battle For Point - Match Report & Pictures now posted
It was a perfect afternoon for football and Palmerston was in good condition for the time of year. Falkirk were keen to pick up three points to try to close in on Dundee who were up in Dingwall, while the hosts were desperate for points in their battle to avoid the drop. They still had Ayr and Raith in their sights and with a showdown encounter in Kirkcaldy coming up - this was a vital time for the Dumfries club.
Falkirk were hoping to maintain their good run of form in Dumfries and they hadn’t lost here since 2003/04 season.
There had been some high-scoring encounters and while current fans could recall two 5-1 wins for the Bairns, only a few of another generation remembered an epic 6-6 draw between the two sides back in the days of Archie Aikman and Co. One of the pressmen present was Bert Houston, the veteran Dumfries Standard football scribe, and he recalled the events of that drawn game as if it was yesterday. Falkirk were unchanged from the side which had performed so well against Hamilton on Tuesday night and Queens gave a vote of confidence to the fit players who had done so well up at Dens Park.
Queens kicked off towards the empty terracing area and looked impressive in the early exchanges, showing a steely determination to win tackles and chase and harry at every opportunity. They nearly took a shock early lead when Tam Scobbie and Nicky Clark were locked in a race to reach a slack pass back and only a timely interception by keeper Michael McGovern saved the day. A feature of the early play were the battles between the burly Sam Parkin and Murray Wallace and the young Bairns defender gave as good as he got in the aerial exchanges.
Queens certainly had pace down the flanks and both Clark and Carmichael were capable of inflicting damage. It took timely interceptions by the experienced Darren Dods to deny goal-scoring opportunities. Queens were showing the same commitment that they had shown recently and there were plenty of hard - but fair -tackles. Craig Sibbald took a few blows early on and Falkirk’s midfield were being pressed back by an eager Queens unit, inspired by the wily veteran Alan Johnston. Falkirk were only seen in isolated breakaways, but Farid El Alagui was certainly winning most of his battles with Chris Higgins, despite the latter visibly pushing him as he rose for the challenges.
Falkirk almost broke the deadlock when Jay Fulton played a great ball through for Sibbald, but keeper Lee Robinson rushed from his line to collect. The home side were certainly more dominant in attacking phases and there was a collective sigh of relief when, from a left wing cross, Kevin Holt headed across the box but there were no blue shirts to threaten McGovern’s goal.
Falkirk had a chance after 23 minutes but Mark Millar’s free kick from wide on the left was well over Robinson’s bar. The best chance of the half so far, fell to Fulton, who flicked a Duffie cross goal-wards but Robinson pulled off a great save to tip over for a corner. Willie Gibson took a free kick from wide on the left, but he fired well over, much to the delight of his former Queens fans. Sibbald went down in a heap after he tackled Parkin and he was in obvious pain. He limped off to be replaced by Kris Faulds after 35 minutes.
The rest of the half was played out with Queens still the dominant side, despite losing Stephen Simmons who had picked up a knock early on and was unable to make a full recovery. Willie Gibson was the first player to be shown a card for a foul on Alan Reid, but the game had been played in a good spirit, despite the high stakes. Queens had had all the pressure, but had nothing to show for it. Falkirk had had the one real clear sight of goals, but Robinson’s save had been the highlight of the first 45 minutes.
Half Time Score: QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 0 FALKIRK 0
Falkirk started in lively fashion, but soon were pinned back by a determined home side. Carmichael was the main threat and he set up Johnston who should have done much better with a volley from the edge of the 18 yard box.
McGovern then pulled off two amazing saves to deny Queens. First he tipped a Carmichael effort on to the post and then he saved at the feet of McLaughlin when goals seemed certain. Both saves showed his value to the side and the defence were coming under real sustained pressure. Skipper Dods was heroic in holding the unit together and he led by example.
The home supporters were aware that Ayr were ahead at Livingston and knew that a win was essential. Their level of support increased as the attacks continued.
Falkirk gradually recovered their composure, but El Alagui was booked for protesting against a foul he had already been awarded. The brandishing of the imaginary card was a step too far for referee Brines and it is something that should be punished. Wallace stood up well to the physical challenge of Parkin in the six yard box and his skipper was quick to acknowledge his skill and strength.
With twenty minutes to play, the game was still there for the taking and for all their pressure Queens had yet to register a goal. Dods was still holding the line together and his determination was rubbing off on those around him. The tension increased as the clock ran down and there were now elements of desperation in the home side’s play. Johnston was rightly booked for a shocking kick at Gibson who had left him standing and it can only have been sheer frustration that led to his action.
McKenna lobbed weakly at McGovern when he had a decent chance and it was obvious that Falkirk’s midfield were losing the battle for supremacy. Queens were more direct in their approach and their fans knew that, as results stood, a draw was of little value to them. Millar and Fulton both hit the woodwork as Falkirk sensed that Queens were leaving gaps at the back.
With a minute to go, it was a very tense home support who urged their side on for one last charge.When Smith’s cross hit Duffie’s hand the screams might have been heard in Dalbeattie, but the contact was purely accidental and referee Brines rightly waved play on. Not for the nervous, but a hard-earned point. Queens keeper Lee Robinson was voted Man of the Match, yet he only had one real save to make.
Full Time Score: QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 0 FALKIRK 0
QUEEN OF THE SOUTH: Robinson, A.Reid, Holt, Simmons (s.40 McKenna), Higgins, McGuffie, Johnston, McLaughlin(s.87 Black), Parkin, Clark (s.70 Smith), Carmichael.Subs. Brighton, Atkinson (GK)
FALKIRK: McGovern, Duffie, Scobbie, Dods, Wallace, J.Fulton, Sibbald (s. 35 Faulds), Millar, El Alagui, Gibson, Weatherston. Subs. Bennett, Kingsley, White, Bowman (GK)
*Craig Sibbald - straight into the action winning a header
*Nicky Clark almost takes advantage of a short passback
*Murray Wallace attempts to block a shot as Queens threaten
*Best chance of the half - Jay Fulton's shot brings out a great save from Lee Robinson
*Game over for 'Sibbs' as he takes a sore one
*Farid El Alagui tussles with Ryan McGuffie
*Farid less than impressed by a challenge from Chris Higgins
*Kris Faulds stepped into the action after Craig Sibbald limped off
*Jay Fulton cracks a shot off the woodwork as the Bairns push for three points
*Allan Johnston scythes Willie Gibson down
*Tam Scobbie attempts to retrieve the ball from Johnston following a free-kick