better meddle...

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

Match Report

Monday, 16th November, 2009

by Ewing Grahame

Falkirk 1-0 Motherwell: Bairns worth the win against off-form 'Well as they extend unbeaten run

FALKIRK extended their unbeaten sequence to six matches with this hard-fought but merited victory. A solitary goal from Michael Higdon separated the teams but if the Bairns had added a few more there could have been no complaints from the visitors.

Motherwell were far from their best and, with nothing to spend in the January transfer market and Sheffield United sniffing around Chris Porter, a repeat of last season's third-place already looks unlikely.

The opening period was scrappy in the extreme, pock-marked by misplaced passes, mistimed tackles and unforced errors.

Unsurprisingly, then, when Motherwell came close to opening the scoring it was as a result of a series of errors in the home defence. John Sutton's head flick from Graeme Smith's kick-out should have been mopped up by either Lee Bullen, Dean Holden or Scott Flinders.

However, as they left it to each other David Clarkson stole in and ought to have done better than to simply toe-poke the ball wide from three yards out.

Falkirk, in spite of starting with three up front, didn't carry much in the way of a goal threat. Steve Lovell was presented with a decent shooting opportunity when Michael Higdon rolled the ball into his path on the edge of the penalty area but he sliced his shot yards wide.

Motherwell contrived to create, and squander, another opening in the 25th minute. Keith Lasley played in Marc Fitzpatrick and, though Bullen did well to block his first effort, the rebound fell kindly for the midfielder, who shot wide from six yards with his less-favoured right foot.

Galvanised by those reprieves, Falkirk finally found a foothold in the game and moved in front eight minutes from the interval with the best move of the half.

Paul Quinn's loose pass was intercepted just inside the home side's half, Scott Arfield quickly released Graham Barrett on the right and his first-time cross picked out Higdon in the centre.

The burly Scouser still had a lot to do but he controlled the ball expertly on his chest and then drilled a low shot inside Graeme Smith's right-hand post from 18 yards.

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee had demanded that his side display the same energy and controlled aggression which won them a point against Rangers in midweek. Not for the first time this season, he was to be disappointed. It could have been worse. Barrett, sent clear by Steve Lovell, saw his first attempt blocked by Smith's outstretched leg and when Burton O'Brien was first to the rebound and cut it back Barrett shot against the far post.

Bob Malcolm produced a superb goal-saving block to deny Arfield as Falkirk sought the cushion of a second goal.

Motherwell by then had almost reverted to a 1950s 2-3-5 formation but having five forwards on the pitch did nothing for their potency, with substitutes Porter and Jamie Murphy finding it every bit as difficult to make an impact as the trio which started the match.

In the end, they simply ran out of ideas.