better meddle...

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

Match Report

Saturday, 30th March, 2024

by Ben Kearney

The Bairns are back as John McGlynn's League One champions hit seventh heaven

Phew. It has taken five seasons and nearly five years, but the unwavering Falkirk support can finally breathe a sigh of relief, the Bairns are back.

Well, actually, it feels like they've been back for a wee while now - thanks to a rejuvenated team on the park and a forward-thinking and open one off it - yet everyone knew that this time around, anything but automatic promotion would have a catastrophe. Full-time football was on the line.

And it has been some journey: missing out on promotion first time around by a single point after a controversial points-per-game league curtailment; losing six out of their eight final games the following year to completely bottle even a play-off spot; then managing to actually finish a place lower in sixth while going through two managers and an interim-manager; finishing second to rivals Dunfermline but reaching a Scottish Cup semi-final as a third tier club, and finally, cruising to a league title as the SPFL's only unbeaten team.

Quite the journey. We haven't even touched on a certain Q&A. "It was a statement, not a question", ex-chairman Gary Deans famously said in possibly the least witty and smart retort of all time...

But for all of the misery and pain. The Falkirk fans can look back on this campaign as one of the best in the club's history. Yes, it has been in the third tier, but John McGlynn's men have been totally imperious.

And that very much continued this afternoon against Montrose this evening as Falkirk sealed a league title in style in front of 2,000 plus away crowd.

After just four minutes, striker Ross MacIver - on a seven match barren run heading into this one - was handed the perfect chance to get on the goal trail when Sean Mackie's lofted ball forward was misjudged by Cammy Gill.

The Montrose stopper was left in no mans land and MacIver had an open goal to fire home and spark further celebrations behind the goal.

It was then two for Falkirk after 22 minutes when Ethan Ross, who came into the team for a rare start, showed great composure out wide to eventually drag the ball back for Aidan Nesbitt - who calmly found the far corner.

Play-off chasing Montrose did grab one back when Kane Hester latched onto an inch-perfect Matheus Machado pass on the half hour mark but the slick Bairns quickly restored their two-goal lead.

Two minutes later, Ross grabbed a deserved goal when he ran onto MacIver's smart flick-on and eventually curled home from the edge of the area after driving past veteran defender Sean Dillon.

After the break, McGlynn's relentless champions showed no signs of letting up, and they surged into a massive five goal lead only four minutes into the second half.

Nesbitt grabbed his second goal when he finished through Gill's legs before Falkirk went up the pitch and scored again just about straight from kick off.

This time around, it was MacIver who grabbed his second of the match, firing the ball home on the rebound after Gill's pushed Callumn Morrison's shot back into the danger area.

And it was six after 67 minutes when substitute Alfredo Agyeman showed tricky feet in the penalty area to chink past two Montrose defenders and power home.

Falkirk's night just got better and better. Fellow substitute Ryan Shanley was next to get on the goalsheet ten minutes later when he controlled a loose pass at the back and used the marking defender to guide the ball past the helpless Gill.

Next up for the Bairns is a tasty home tie with Paul Hartley's Cove Rangers next Saturday as McGlynn's men look to make a special campaign that bit sweeter - with invincibility on the line heading into the final five matches.