Falkirk enter draw for Ramsdens Cup quarter finals

Kallum Higginbotham of Falkirk tangles with Dundee's Craig McKeown as ref Brian Winter intervenes
Kallum Higginbotham of Falkirk tangles with Dundee's Craig McKeown as ref Brian Winter intervenes

Falkirk are in the mix for the Ramsdens Challenge Cup draw today after a commendable victory over Dundee.

Frenchman Farid El Allagui tapped in the only goal just before half-time after an unselfish pass across from Craig Sibbald.

It was enough to see the Bairns into the next round and capped a fine team performance in front of a disappointing crowd.

Dundee have long been Falkirk’s bogey team, holding the upper hand over managers from Alex Totten through to Steven Pressley.

But finally Elvis, and his young side, have ended 13 years without a win against the Taysiders and in some style.

Captain Darren Dods was impressed: “I think we can take a lot of confidence from the way we played.

“Michael McGovern only had a few punches to make really and we kept it very tight at the back.

“I’ve never won this cup so to keep progressing in it builds momentum and can only be a good thing for such a young team.”

Although few in number, the audience was entertained enough by some of the Bairns passing to launch into a chant of ‘Come On Ye Bairns’ - not audible at The Falkirk Stadium since last season’s Hearts cup win.

It was a stirring victory then and though this match itself was far from as pulsating as the 4-3 win, it still brought delight to the 1500 or so Bairns in The Falkirk Stadium.

There were more similarities with Saturday’s defeat at Raith Rovers though than the rip-roaring Hearts win.

Like that game the teams cancelled each other out to reasonable effect in the early stages, though both sides were keen on attacking and Falkirk had a series of half-chances, one from Craig Sibbald was blocked and another was missed completely by Jay Fulton arriving late and off-balance in the box.

The Bairns dug in through the midfield, bossed in the main by man-of-the-match Mark Millar who was particularly missed in Kirkcaldy.

Dundee ensured Michael McGovern’s concentration remained alert with the first meaningful test of the goalkeeper on 35 minutes but even Jake Hyde’s shot sailed wide.

It weas back in the midfield where Falkirk sparked the move that lead to their goal. Kieran Duffie fearlessly won a 50-50 challenge and earned an injury that would curtail his movement for the rest of the game.

He earned possession for Kallum Higginbotham to fed a pass into the run of Craig Sibbald. Both El Allagui and the 16-year-old beat the offside trap and flew into the box. Sibbald drew Rab Douglas off his line to the edge of the six-yard box before squaring to the Frenchman for a tap-in.

It wasn’t all comfortable though. Both Darren Dods and Rhys Bennett had second-half scares. Dods sold a pass-back short but McGovern cleared from Jamie McCluskey and a slip from Bennett let the ball run to Ryan Conroy but a last-man tackle by Dods spared his blushes.

McGovern only had another few crosses to punch in a defensively sound performance, and Falkirk could have had more than Allagui’s goal.

A powerful breakaway run by Millar saw a dipping shot from 25 yards force Rab Douglas into conceding a corner.

Then Bennett - who is providing an occasional threat on mazy runs forward - got to the by-line and teed up Higginbotham. Douglas made a great reaction stop and Bennett headed the rebound across goal.

It had the fans on their feet, but Falkirk’s finances need the type of footfall reward their play deserves when the quarter final comes around. Opponents include Hamilton, Livi, East Fife, Ayr, Morton, Berwick and Annan.