Falkirk travelled to Giffnock on Sunday to play a Scottish Cup tie with six of their regular starters missing. Although most were able to turn up and watch as spectators, their enforced absence on the pitch was a massive blow to the team.

This may have contributed to an early defensive mixup which saw the ball rolled into an empty Falkirk net without a Giffnock player touching it. One minute gone and the Bairns were behind. However, they responded quickly and on 11 minutes Avril Johnstone crossed from the left for Kirsty Gilbert to beat the keeper and bring Falkirk level.   

Two minutes later the Bairns went ahead in an action packed opening 15 minutes. One of the Giffnock players passed back to her keeper without checking where the keeper was standing and the ball rolled into the net for a goal which, like Giffnock’s opener, would rather be forgotten by the conceding team. Suffice to say that at this point the game was extremely scrappy.  

However, the goal seemed to settle Falkirk down and they began to play the passing football which has been a hallmark of their games this season. A good ball from Carolanne Cullen saw striker Fiona Gardner in on goal but the keeper got there first, clearing it straight to Gilbert whose lob sadly failed to find the net. Falkirk were now dominating the game.   

Ellie Roberts then had a header go wide from a corner followed by a Gardner had shot that was parried out by the keeper, with Roberts heading over from the resulting corner. You sensed a goal was coming and it duly arrived in the 31st minute. Cullen again slipped a pass through from midfield and Gilbert beat the keeper to grab her second of the game. Six minutes later Falkirk added a fourth. This time Rhianne Ferguson played Gardner in and she showed great composure to go past the keeper and roll the ball into the empty net. The final chance of the half saw Gardner setting up Cullen but the keeper pulled off a good save.

The game looked over at halftime but Giffnock had other ideas. They pinned the visitors back early in the second half and it took a good save from Falkirk goalkeeper Sarah-Louise Waugh to maintain the three goal lead. Defender Aimee Lenathen headed a goal-bound effort away from the corner kick that followed. Giffnock headed over from another corner as the pressure mounted and finally pulled a goal back with a near post finish just before the hour mark.  

The Falkirk response was immediate. Almost straight from kickoff, Gilbert carried the ball from midfield, played in Gardner and the striker shot low past the keeper for her second of the game.

In the 64th minute a Giffnock forward found space in the box and saw her shot beaten away by Waugh, at which point the ref pulled play back for a tug on the forward, awarded a penalty and issued a straight red to Lenathen, much to the astonishment of the defender and her teammates.  

Giffnock scored the penalty and put heavy pressure on Falkirk for the remainder of the game. Their best chances were a header off the bar and when of the players rounded Waugh and looked certain to score, but Iona Bridges slid in with a perfectly timed tackle to clear the danger. Resolute defending for the second week in succession saw Falkirk through to the next round of the cup.  

Special mention should go to the two players from the Development and Under 16 squads, Sophie Bailey and Isla Ferguson. They not only gave us cover on the bench but also came on as subs to make their debuts for the senior team, proving that our girls pathway is working as intended.  

Line-up: Sarah-Louise Waugh, Megan Black, Aimee Lenathen, Iona Bridges, Ellie Roberts,  Carolanne Cullen, Charlotte Holden, Rhianne Ferguson, Avril Johnstone (sub Isla Ferguson), Fiona Gardner (sub Sophie Bailey), Kirsty Gilbert.

Unused substitutes: Rachel Pirie. 

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