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Despite pre-match rumours, there were no new faces in the Falkirk line-up but John Hughes did spring a couple of surprises by listing himself in the heart of the defence following his serious shoulder injury, and giving young midfielder Ryan McStay his second league start of the season. Pedro Moutinho returned to lead the attack at the expense of Andy Thomson, whilst the almost forgotten figure of Brent Rahim warmed the bench. Daniel McBreen complained of feeling unwell before the match and did not strip. St Johnstone had former Bairn, Kieran MacAnespie, wide on the left.


Falkirk made a dramatic start in the first thirty seconds when Pedro Moutinho danced his way through the Saints defence but was crowded out and in the ensuing melee, Darryl Duffy’s blocked effort was hammered back across goal by Andy Lawrie only to see the Portuguese striker scoop his shot over the bar from six yards.

Saints made headway up the right in the next attack and the far-side assistant referee upset the away support by failing to spot that the ball at McCann’s feet ran out of play not once, but twice, before the move broke down.

Yogi had asked questions of the players following last week’s defeat but they responded with enthusiasm and some meaty challenges which had the McDiarmid outfit on the back-foot in the early stages.

Falkirk continued to press and neat interplay between Latapy and McStay almost let Moutinho in after quarter-of-an-hour but Pedro’s first touch let him down. Four minutes later another well-constructed move involving Duffy and Moutinho was within an inch of putting Latapy in the clear.

There were some heart-stopping moments in the St Johnstone defence as firstly, a McStay corner flashed untouched across the six yard box, and then Latapy was tripped right on the edge of the area before he crashed the kick against the defensive wall. The little midfielder was to have the last laugh though as he gave Falkirk the lead in 22 minutes. The Bairns attacked down the left and Russell Latapy danced along the goal-line before lifting an amazing effort up and over the goalkeeper, high into the net from an impossible angle. A candidate for goal of the season.

There was some frustration shown by David Hannah as Saintees tried to fight back, bundling over both Hughes and Scally on the touchline as he chased a clearance out of defence and a minute later, Peter MacDonald was penalised for a barge on Kevin James as the giant defender shepherded a loose ball out for a goal-kick.

Tempers began to fray on the half-hour mark when a late challenge by Michael Moore felled Kevin James as he cleared on the corner of the six-yard box. The forward further accentuated the problem by having a go at the Falkirk defender as he lay on the ground and as Referee Underhill stepped in to calm things, Moore pushed his luck too far by ignoring the whistler’s beckoning finger. James had done well to stay clear of the dispute but incredibly the referee booked the Bairns centre-back as well as Moore. A bad error of judgement by the man-in-the-middle.
There was some trouble in the Falkirk end of the ground as passions rose and several fans were ejected by the police.

The visitors seemed to be distracted and Peter MacDonald crashed a shot into the side netting in the 40th minute before MacAnespie forced Ferguson to tip over a blistering attempt from 15 yards. With half-time approaching, MacDonald again created danger on the break when his cross field pass into the penalty area was hooked away from the lurking MacAnespie by a great John Hughes tackle.

Half-time : St Johnstone 0 Falkirk 1

The home side threatened immediately on the restart when Peter MacDonald curled a shot over Ferguson’s crossbar then MacAnespie hammered an effort right across the six-yard line but there were no takers.

Falkirk replied with a neat Moutinho turn on the half-way line but Webb brought the striker down and he needed attention before he rejoined the action to put the Bairns further ahead in 52 minutes.

Darryl Duffy did the spadework up the left and his low accurate ball into the box was perfect for Pedro Moutinho to nip in ahead of Kevin Cuthbert, and with the aid of a lucky rebound, knock the ball home to the delight of the support behind the goal.

There was no joy for Cuthbert though, as he lay pole axed for some considerable time in the penalty area. It was clearly a serious injury and the Club Doctor was called on to the pitch before the ‘keeper was stretchered off to a round of very sporting applause from the concerned Falkirk supporters.

The game had been stopped for five minutes, in which time Michael Moore was withdrawn in favour of Chris Hay, before Craig Samson donned the goalkeepers gloves. The on-loan ‘keeper impressed immediately, parrying a point blank Scott MacKenzie piledriver round the post as the Bairns went for the kill.

Saints responded with a shot-cum-cross from Chris Hay which failed to trouble Allan Ferguson. John Hughes and Referee Underhill engaged in a frank and open exchange of views as they ran back upfield, something clearly irking the irate Falkirk boss.

Scally, at last, exacted some revenge on Hannah in 59 minutes with an “accidental” flying elbow as they contested a high ball, justified in the fans' eyes, following a series of fouls against him in the first-half by the Saints midfielder. Kevin Fotheringham was booked for pulling down Latapy in 71 minutes as time began to run out for the Perth men.

Five minutes later and it was curtains for the home side. Saintees, caught on the counter attack, allowed Latapy to run 50 yards unchallenged and as he cut inside of Webb to shoot the big defender wrestled him to the ground for a “stonewall” penalty kick.
Darryl Duffy stepped up to hammer the ball where the ‘keepers don’t like it- low and right in at the post.

The little Trinadadian midfielder was given a deserved standing ovation as he was replaced by Colin Marshall with six minutes left.

A great result…with Falkirk right back on track for the title…

Full-time : St Johnstone 0 Falkirk 3

St Johnstone: Cuthbert (Samson 52), Baxter, Kevin Fotheringham, Hannah, Webb, Maxwell, McCann (Martyn Fotheringham 66), Sheerin, MacDonald, Moore (Hay 52), McAnespie.
Subs Not Used: Tait, Jackson.
Booked: Moore, Kevin Fotheringham.

Falkirk : Ferguson, Lawrie, McPherson, MacKenzie, Hughes, James, McStay, Scally, Moutinho, Latapy (Marshall 84), Duffy.
Subs Not Used: Thomson, Rahim, Campbell, Hill(GK).
Booked: James.
Goals: Latapy 22, Moutinho 52, Duffy 76 pen.

Att: 3,395
Ref: J Underhill