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FALKIRK 5 STIRLING ALBION 3


John Hughes continued with the starting line-up which had produced 14 goals in the last three matches, whilst James Sharp and Allan Ferguson took up places on the bench at the expense of the Manager and J.C. Hutchison.

The ‘Albion’ featured former Bairn, Myles Hogarth, between the sticks.

There was little to enthuse over in the early exchanges and it was seven minutes before the home side could muster their first attack, Andy Thomson sending in a neat cross which Darryl Duffy nodded high over the bar.

O’Brien was looking lively for the visitors and his strong running gave Lawrie a problem as he had to haul the youngster down on the edge of the box after 11 minutes. McDonald’s free-kick went harmlessly wide.

Falkirk replied two minutes later with a Latapy drive which went agonisingly wide followed by a deflected effort from Duffy which rebounded off Hogarth with the ‘keeper knowing little about it.

In 23 minutes Duffy’s pace took him on to the end of a wayward Albion backpass and the youngster tried an audacious lob from almost on the bye-line which Hogarth held at full-stretch.

There were warning signs in the next Albion attack when James was caught out with a through ball but Gethins lashed his effort wide of target. Falkirk failed to heed the danger and went one down in controversial circumstances.

O’Brien skipped past Lawrie, but in fairness to the defender, he recovered well and clearly played the ball away as the winger tumbled dramatically to the turf. To the disgust of the home support, Charlie Richmond pointed to the spot and you have to say it was a very soft award. Gethins did the needful from the spot.

On the half-hour mark, the Bairns might have been two down as O’Brien raced clear again, but Hill brought off a great save to somehow force the shot up and over the bar.

That seemed to spark a reaction from Falkirk as they raced upfield and deservedly drew level in 33 minutes. O’Neil was fouled as he juggled the ball on the edge of the box and from the free-kick, Nicholls struck a lovely low shot straight into the corner of the net. Five minutes later and the home side went in front. O’Neil did all the spadework from Latapy’s pass, sending a great ball across goal for Darryl Duffy to scramble home from a yard out.

Just before the break, McDonald was spoken to for a body-check on O’Neil before Nicholls kept up the momentum with a rasping drive which was deflected wide.

Half-time: Falkirk 2 Stirling Albion 1

Yogi’s half-time teamtalk worked wonders as Falkirk went further in front three minutes into the half. The Albion defence seemed confused by the retreating Duffy, allowing Latapy to stay onside and roll the ball wide of the advancing ‘keeper.

Hogarth & Co. were on the rack now, and a minute later Duffy almost made it four when a sweeping move involving Latapy and Thomson ended with the Falkirk No. 11 crashing a shot off the left-hand upright.

There was some great football coming from the Bairns as Thomson lofted over the bar following a 50 yard Latapy pass. Hogarth almost gifted a goal from the bye-kick, sending it straight to Andy Thomson, whose shot was somehow pushed up against the bar and clear by the red-faced Albion shot- stopper.

John Hughes rang the changes on the hour mark, Kevin James off for Sharp and Scally replacing the hard-working MacKenzie.

Stirling looked dead and buried as Latapy punished them with goal number 4 in 68 minutes. Thomson ran to the bye-line unchallenged and the Trinidadian nonchalently hooked his cut-back wide of Hogarth as the Albion defence looked on in disarray.

The visitors were desperately trying to keep the score down and Campbell was unlucky when his close range header from a Duffy cross thumped off a post.

It was all going too well and suddenly Stirling caught out the Falkirk defence with a sucker punch. Cummings got on the end of a fine move before shooting low and hard past Hill from the edge of the box in 74 minutes.

Back came the Bairns and only Hogarth will know how he prevented a Thomson volley from hitting the net, the ball hitting the goalkeeper as he dived and spinning up and over the bar.

Goal number 5 was merely delayed by two minutes. Moutinho made a good run down the right and his low cross into the box was collected by Duffy. The striker made a run wide and seemed to have his heels clicked by a defender. Soft, yes, but in the fans eyes it made up for Mr Richmond’s first half blunder. Darryl took the kick himself sending it low into the corner of goal.

Full credit to the Albion though as they continued to press for a goal and they were rewarded with a counter in 88 minutes. Campbell struggled to meet an inswinging cross, and as he collided with Rowe the ball flashed past Hill who was rooted to his line.

As the game drew to close there were efforts from Cummings of Albion and Andy Thomson, but the score remained at 5-3

Falkirk: Hill, Lawrie, McPherson, MacKenzie (Scally 63), Campbell, James (Sharp 62), O'Neil, Nicholls, Thomson, Latapy (Moutinho 71), Duffy. Subs Not Used: McAnespie, Ferguson.
Booked: Lawrie.
Goals: Nicholls 33, Duffy 38, Latapy 48, 68, Duffy 79 pen.

Stirling: Hogarth, Nugent, Scotland, McNally, Rowe, MacDonald, Hay (Hutchison 86), Ferguson, Gethins (Cummings 62), Glancy, O'Brien. Subs Not Used: Allan, Roycroft, Christie.
Goals: Gethins 27 pen, Cummings 74, Campbell 88 og.

Att: 2,631

Ref: Charlie Richmond