better meddle...

wi' the de'il than the bairns o' fa'kirk

Match Report

Sunday, 28th September, 2008

by Ewan Smith

Hamilton left wishing for a wonderwall as Oasis fan Arfield inspires Falkirk to put four goals past SPL's new boys

IT WAS Definitely Maybe an inspirational afternoon from Scott Arfield as his two-goal display helped Falkirk to an easy win over Hamilton. However, now that the hard work is out of the way Arfield has launched an appeal to Roll With It at Glasgow's SECC with Oasis in November.

Moments after netting the fourth goal, to add to his earlier strike and efforts from team-mates Steve Lovell and Burton O'Brien, he raced to the corner flag to imitate a microphone-style celebration in honour of his pop idols.

"I did that because I'm desperate to go to the Oasis concert with my brother Stuart in Glasgow in November," said Arfield. "We can't get tickets anywhere but keep talking about it and I'm sure my brother knew exactly what I was doing.

"Getting those goals was a big boost to me because I have set myself big targets this year. I only got three last year for Falkirk but I've already got that this year and want to get into double figures."

On paper this first ever Scottish Premier League meeting between these sides conjures up very little to get excited about but with Arfield about it certainly was.

The opening period didn't disappoint. We may not have marvelled at a series of near misses but some of the intricate football was a joy to watch at times.

Most of it came from Hamilton, a team who continue to silence the doubters that had them written off as cannon fodder for the SPL big boys.

Their willingness to take the game to the opposition, regardless of stature or reputation, has been one of the most refreshing things about their return to the top flight following a 20-year exile.

It was a key reason why they took all three points at Aberdeen a fortnight ago and it was prevalent again yesterday. For their 4-3-3 system to work they need teenage talisman James McCarthy to be on top of his game and he was.

His foraging runs from deep into the box were a constant source of nuisance to Falkirk and so nearly unlocked John Hughes' men on several occasions.

It was McCarthy who had the game's first effort, on five minutes, as he picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and tried his luck. The ball skidded wide.

Next it was the turn of another talented youngster – James McArthur – to try and unlock the home defence. His clever ball sent Derek Lyle racing clear on the corner of the penalty box but the former Dundee man drilled the ball into the arms of Robert Olejnik.

Falkirk then began to come more into the game and came close to the opener on 20 minutes, only for Simon Mensing to make a goal-line clearance.

New Scotland cap Darren Barr was a relieved man as his clumsy challenge on McCarthy was deemed to be outside the box by referee Mike Tumilty and a free-kick, not the penalty Accies screamed for, was awarded.

Graham Barrett then began ruffle a few feathers in the visiting defence, twice coming close to netting in the space of a minute, his first effort saved by Tomas Cerny and his second hitting the side netting.

Barrett was to finally have the end product his clever runs deserved on 45 minutes as he stole a yard inside the 18-yard box to fire in a low shot that was helped over the line by Lovell.

Falkirk nearly made it two almost from the kick-off. Scott Arfield's ball caught Hamilton on the hop and Lovell tried to take advantage. Only a last-ditch tackle from Martin Canning prevented Lovell from getting a shot in and Falkirk were forced to settle for a single-goal advantage at the break.

The second half was as lively as the first and James McArthur nearly levelled on 47 minutes as he found space to get on the end of a McCarthy through-ball, only for Olejnik to save his effort.

His opposite number Cerny then proved his worth at the other end as he punched away a 30-yard strike from Kevin McBride.

Hamilton then shuffled their strike force, bringing on Richard Offiong and Stephen Ettien for Thomas and Derek Lyle. The move almost paid instant dividends as Ettien got on the end of a David Graham cross to head against the post.

Falkirk, though, put paid to any hopes of an Accies revival on 69 minutes as Arfield finished off a superb solo run past three defenders to drill the ball low past Cerny.

Two minutes later Burton O'Brien beat Cerny from 25 yards to put the icing on the cake for Falkirk.

Cerny then showed superb reflexes to turn away a late Higdon effort but Falkirk were not to be denied a fourth and it duly came on 87 minutes as Gerard Aafjes was tripped by Graham in the box and Arfield stepped up to convert from the spot.

Not even a late blunder by Falkirk keeper Robert Olejnik, who palmed a Trent McLenahan cross into his own net to give Accies a late consolation, could take the shine on what was a great day for Falkirk.