better meddle...

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

Match Report

Wednesday, 31st December, 2008

by Andy Thomson

Only way is up as Bairns lose again

WHEN looking back over 2008, Dec-ember will not be the one of the more memorable times for Falkirk fans.

Saturday's defeat means the Bairns have lost all four matches during the month.

And now Falkirk boss John Hughes is hoping the New Year will signal a change of fortune for his side.

"We put enough into the match to score a few goals, he said.

"The best opportunities fell to Scott Arfield. But it's just the way it has been going for us, even the effort that has hit the post. It's just not falling for us in front of goal.

"Dundee United edged the first half but we were the better side after the interval until Darren Barr was ordered off.

"Even after that we gave it a go with plenty of effort and commitment and played some really good stuff."

He went on: "But it sums up the way things are going for us at the moment. We are just not carrying enough luck."

After falling behind in the first-half, the Bairns were dealt a fatal blow when Darren Barr was dismissed on a second yellow card when he fouled Willo Flood in 82 minutes.

Although not disputing the decision, the boss has some sympathy with his skipper.

"For his first yellow card. I felt Darren played the ball first. It was deemed a reckless challenge because his mo-mentum took him through the player. That's the rules but I feel for him. He is trying ever so hard, too hard sometimes, and he needs just to take a step back from it.

"He needs to look over his shoulder and see Jackie McNamara – he does his talking on the park.

"However, Darren is exactly the type of player I want at my club.

"I would back him 100 per cent because he is right up for the cause.

"He just has to be careful he doesn't get too carried away on occasion."

Falkirk welcomed back Jackie McNamara from suspension and Michael Higdon from 'flu as they faced a United team that had only lost one game in 16 and included Lee Wilkie, who passed a late fitness test.

It took only three minutes for the home side to register their intent when Paul Dixon raced down the left wing and played the ball square across the six yard box for the inrushing Warren Feeney to shoot onto the bar.

The ball dropped to Jon Daly and he prodded the ball into the net but the Bairns were saved by the linesman's flag.

United started to dominate in midfield and on 21 minutes they scored when Feeney outpaced Bullen and, as he played the ball across the six yard box, Barr seemed to slip and his weak header fell for Scott Robertson.

Falkirk responded with a succession of corners and Higdon was unlucky to head just over on more than one occasion. And then the Bairns carved out two chances to get back on level terms.

Arfield spotted a great run by Steve Lovell and played a delightful ball to the striker but he lost his footing at the wrong moment. Arfield then passed up the best chance of the half.

Higdon did well to hold the ball up and played in the young midfielder. He couldn't get the ball out of his feet quickly enough and shot over the bar.

Falkirk started the second half with purpose and only three minutes into the second period Arfield combined with Lovell.

The under-21 inter-nationalist found himself in a similar position to his first half chance. This time he kept his shot low but Zaluska was equal to it.

Craig Conway mishit an effort that cannoned off the bar before Daly passed up another good chance.

Higdon responded with an effort from 20 yards that flashed just wide.

After 67 minutes Dundee United claimed for a penalty when Feeney cut across Barr and fell but the referee waved away claims.

Higdon and Lovell com-bined to set up Arfield for a third great chance. The youngster found himself in space right in the middle of the 18 yard line and could count himselfunfortunate when his shot beat Zaluska only to hit the post.

Despite Barr being given his marching orders, the 10-man Bairns pushed forward but were unable to equalise.