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Falkirk Football Club is a Scottish professional association football club based in the town of Falkirk. The club was founded in 1876 and competes in the Scottish Championship as a member of the Scottish Professional Football League. The club was elected to the Second Division of the Scottish Football League in 1902–03, was promoted to the First Division after two seasons and achieved its highest league position in the early 1900s when it was runner-up to Celtic in 1907–08 and 1909–10. The football club was registered as a Limited Liability Company in April 1905 – Falkirk Football & Athletic Club Ltd.
Falkirk won the Scottish Cup for the first time in 1913. After 1945, Falkirk were promoted and demoted between the Premier and First Divisions seven times until 1995–96, and during the 1970s spent three seasons in the Second Division. In 2005, Falkirk were promoted to the Scottish Premier League (SPL). Falkirk won the Scottish Cup again in 1957 and were runners-up in the competition in 1997, 2009 and 2015. As a result of its performance in the 2009 Scottish Cup, the club qualified for the inaugural season of the UEFA Europa League in 2009–10. Falkirk have won the second tier of Scottish football a record seven times, an honour shared with St Johnstone. They have also won the Scottish Challenge Cup more than any other club, winning it for the fourth time in 2012.
In their early years, Falkirk played at three venues: Hope Street, Randyford Park and Blinkbonny Park. Between 1885 and 2003, the club was based at Brockville Park, built on the former Hope Street ground. After the creation of the SPL in 1998, its strict stadium criteria – to which Brockville Park did not conform – was enforced, and the club was denied promotion on three occasions. The club's present home ground since 2003 is the Falkirk Stadium, an 7,937 all-seater stadium on the outskirts of Falkirk.
Haber becomes Paul Hartley's 14th signing this summer with the Bairns boss delighted with his recent arrival.
"I'm absolutely delighted to recruit a player of Marcus' calibre," said Hartley.
"I am surprised that a player of his quality has become available, but equally pleased to have signed him.
"He will add great experience and presence to our front line and I'm sure will contribute goals too. Ww identified the need to strengthen our frontline and I feel the signing of Marcus does just that."
Marcus Haber played 41 times for Dundee, scoring 10 goals.
Dundee made only one change from Friday night's game in Aberdeen. Kosta Gazdhalov came in for Darren O'Dea who was not registered in time for the original date. Falkirk made three changes, David McCracken for Peter Grant, Blair Alston for Connor McGrandles and Tom Taiwo for Lee Miller.
Dundee started promisingly with Nick Ross sending Nicky Low to the byline in the first minute, but there were no takers for a dangerous cross. The Bairns, however, settled quickly and took the game to the Dee. Falkirk tried to play their way through the Dundee midfield and defence with neat passing, and were sometimes allowed rather too much room to do so.
With less of the ball Dundee looked more dangerous. Kane Hemmings and Greg Stewart managed to find a surprising amount of space, and Hemmings was often on the shoulders of the last defender, trying to burst clear.
Twice in quick succession Dundee passed their way through the Bairns' defence. Delightful play between Gary Harkins and Greg Stewart almost played Hemmings in, but Danny Rogers managed to dive on the ball. Ross then blazed his shot over the bar from a tight angle after Harkins' had cleverly created the opportunity. For all Falkirk's good football they weren't convincing when they reached the penalty area. Blair Alston did force a good save from Scott Bain with a shot from 18 yards.
The home fans had been getting frustrated with a series of narrow offside decisions that went against Dundee. When they did beat the offside trap after 38 minutes they took the lead. HEMMINGS took a long pass from Paul McGowan and from 18 yards crashed his shot into the net off the underside of the crossbar.
The Bairns hit back almost immediately with a goal that owed nothing to the neat football they'd been playing. Dundee's attempted breakout from a corner broke down and Mark Kerr sent the ball straight back into the home penalty area. The unmarked John Baird was onside and he played the ball across for Paul WATSON to force in the equaliser.
The Dark Blues recovered well from that disappointment and went on to take charge of the match in the second half. It took a while for the Dee to click as a series of promising moves didn't quite come off. There was almost a scare when Craig Sibbald's run took him deep into the penalty area, but he waited far too long before shooting and lost the chance. It was just about the only time in the second half that the Bairns looked truly dangerous. Their failure to take advantage cost them dearly as the Dee went back in front shortly afterwards with a marvellous goal.
Paul McGowan found Paul McGinn on the right. The full back took a great first touch to knock the ball into space and fired over a fine cross that eluded Harkins only for HEMMINGS to smash home an unstoppable far post volley from six yards - his ninth goal in the last six games.
With Dundee in the lead the Bairns pushed forward and looked increasingly vulnerable against Dundee's skillful attackers. Paul Hartley added to Falkirk's problems by sending on Rory Loy to replace Nicky Low with 20 minutes to go. It looked a bold move and it quickly paid off with an excellent third goal.
Hemmings broke down the right with Loy in support. The Falkirk defence were all watching the ex Bairn and failed to spot Harkins' run through the middle. Hemmings timed his pass perfectly, and HARKINS took a touch before drilling a low shot into the corner of the goal from 18 yards.
Julen Etxabeguren was a welcome sight for the home support, returning from his eye injury a few minutes from full time when Kosta Gadzhalov was suffering from cramp.
Greg Stewart nearly put the Dee out of sight when he dribbled into the penalty area and shot against the outside of the post. Falkirk worked hard to try and get back into the match, but failed to create any chances except for a stinging 20 yarder in injury time from Will Vaulks that Bain did well to turn away.
Dundee now move on to Dumbarton for the 5th round against another Championship side. Tonight the Dark Blues showed that when their attackers are on form they can make life very difficult for teams from outside the Premiership. Falkirk are one of the best sides in the Championship, and they showed tonight why they are widely admired for the quality and style of their football. However, they had no answer to Dundee's attacking flair, and that was the crucial difference that gave the Dee a deserved win.
Dundee FC 4-4-1-1
McGinn, Gadazhalov (Etxabeguren 70), Konrad, Holt
Stewart, McGowan, Ross, Low (Loy 70)
Unused subs: Mitchell (gk), Irvine, Curran, Kerr, Wighton
Goal: Hemmings (38, 59), Harkins (73)
Falkirk FC 4-4-1-1
Vaulks, Watson, McCracken, Leahy
Alston, Muirhead, Kerr, Taiwo (McHugh 66)
Unused subs: Tokarczyk (gk), Smith, Cooper, O'Hara, Gallagher, Maybury
Goals: Watson (40)
Booked: Watson (foul on Hemmings)
Referee: Willie Collum. Assistants: Alastair Mather, Alasdair Ross. 4th official: Colin Steven.
Report: James Christie
The only change from Tuesday night's winning team was that Craig Beattie replaced Nicky Riley, with Martin Boyle moving to the right wing.
Dundee started well against an uncertain Bairns' defence, that was leaving space in front of the full backs and consistently failed to clear the ball when they had the chance.
The Dark Blues had the first chance after 10 minutes when Peter MacDonald's header from a corner was hacked off the line by Millar. The Dee continued to threaten but the vital goal fell to Falkirk after 18 minutes. Millar's inswinger was headed home at the near post by Mark BECK.
Falkirk were not playing the fluent passing game that has caused Dundee so many problems this season, but they posed a different threat today in the lanky form of Beck, on loan from Carlisle. He might not have been particularly elegant on the ground, but in the air he unsettled the Dundee defence.
Craig Beattie nearly fashioned a quick equaliser. He turned Kingsley brilliantly to run clear, but keeper McGovern managed to block his shot.
Falkirk's next corner nearly led to a goal, but for Dundee. Declan Gallagher won the ball superbly to send Boyle racing down the right. With the Bairns' defenders backtracking he ran on and rolled the ball across for Beattie 14 yards out. The striker should have scored, but went for power rather than accuracy and hit the ball straight at McGovern.
The Dee had a rather fortunate escape themselves when Loy's run set up a scramble in which Grandles and Beck had shots charged down.
The Falkirk defence continued to look vulnerable, but Dundee couldn't force the equaliser. A third golden chance fell to Craig Beattie. MacDonald chested Davidson's cross down, but from eight yards Beattie smashed his shot against the outside of the post.
The Dark Blues defence may have looked more secure than the Bairns', but it was hardly convincing and Dundee had a final let off when Loy's 18 yard shot took a deflection and flew narrowly wide.
Sadly for Dundee they couldn't carve open the Bairns' defence as easily in the second half and they paid the price for squandering their first half chances. Falkirk looked more comfortable sitting back, and their midfield finally started to offer their defence some protection.
Boyle was still lively on the right, and a good run ended with a very poor late challenge by Millar that the officials somehow missed.
Jim McAlister took a head knock bravely challenging for an Irvine cross. Ryan Conroy took his place on the left of midfield. Dundee were exerting plenty of pressure, but there was little composure or conviction and it was the visitors who came closest to scoring again.
Davidson dived into a challenge on Millar who was heading for the byline. He took both man and ball. Referee Mr McKendrick decided it was more man than ball and pointed to the penalty spot. Last week Kyle Letheren saved a spot kick by standing his ground. Today he saved Millar's penalty with a magnificent low save to his left.
This gave the crowd a huge lift and they got right behind the Dee. Christian Nadé came on for Beattie, and then Nicky Riley replaced Rae. Dundee now had three strikers and two wide players, but they lacked a midfield to control the game.
Dundee's desperate attempts to chase an equaliser always left them vulnerable to a Falkirk break. Beck was largely ineffective in the second half, but Rory Loy's probing runs were far more dangerous. His team mates didn't get forward to support him, however, as the Bairns concentrated on watching the clock.
Falkirk's time wasting was largely tolerated by the referee. Mr McKendrick was infuriating the home crowd with some unnecessary fussiness, but Dundee's problems were of their own making and the Dee could have no complaints over the big decisions by the referee today.
Dundee did manage to force the ball into the net in injury time when Gallagher bundled Irvine's cross into the net along with the keeper. Such goals have been allowed recently, but no-one was very surprised when Mr McKendrick refused to allow it.
All Dundee had to show for their second half pressure were some wayward shots from distance and a couple of Boyle shots that were charged down or deflected. All the other attacks petered out with poor final balls and poor choices.
In recent games Dundee have been tight at the back and have taken the few chances that came their way. Today they conceded a disappointingly soft goal then spurned some excellent chances. In the first half they actually played far better than in many recent wins. Without scoring that counts for nothing, and the way that Dundee fell away in the second half disappointed everyone.
The hectic spell of five games in 15 days is now over, with the Dee having taken 10 points but lost the top spot. They now have a week to regroup and prepare for the big showdown at New Douglas Park next week. The Dark Blues will need all the support they can get in what is surely their biggest game for several years.
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Irvine, Gallagher, Cummins, Dyer
Boyle, Davidson, Rae (Riley 72), McAlister (Conroy 55)
Beattie (Nadé 64), MacDonald
Unused subs: Twardzik (gk), Kerr, McBride, Doris
Booked: Irvine (foul on Kingsley)
Falkirk FC 4-4-2
Vaulks, McCracken, Kingsley, Chalmers
Alston (Leahy 64), Millar, Sibbald, McGrandles (Durojaiye 86)
Beck, Loy (Flynn 89)
Unused subs: Bowman (gk), Small, Hogg, Shepherd
Goal: Beck (18)
Referee: John McKendrick
Report: James Christie
Following the disappointing performance against Livingston John Brown made five changes. New signings Christian Nadé and Stephen Hughes came into the starting line-up along with Kyle Benedictus, Willie Dyer and Iain Davidson. Only Jim McAlister kept his place from the midfield and attack against Livi, with McBride, Rae, Conroy, Boyle and Wighton dropping onto the bench.
Gallagher and Benedictus were at centre back, with Lockwood the free man behind them. Irvine and Dyer played as wing backs, with a central midfield of Hughes, Davidson and McAlister.
Reverting to the 3-5-2 formation that Dundee tried early in the season was a disappointing failure. In the 30 minutes till the Dark Blues switched to the usual 4-4-2 they were wide open down the flanks and offered no threat up front.
The early signs were ominous. Duffie made space on the right and Letheren did well to save Alston's close range volley. On the other wing McGrandles' burst clear. His deflected cross was parried by Letheren and Dyer blocked Loy's follow up.
It was no surprise when Dundee's vulnerability at the back cost them a goal. After 16 minutes Benedictus slipped, allowing Roberts to run clear down the right. McGRANDLES took his cross and crashed the opening goal in off the post from 12 yards.
The Bairns were comfortably in control and should have made it 2-0 when Millar played a neat exchange with Loy, but with the goal gaping he placed his shot too close to Letheren, who turned it wide for a corner.
Dundee now switched to 4-4-2, with Lockwood moving to left back and Dyer to left midfield. Irvine dropped back to play as an orthodox right back and Hughes moved to right midfield.
The changes made Dundee more secure at the back, but they were still utterly toothless in attack. MacDonald and Nadé received dreadful service from a midfield that could neither worry the Falkirk defence nor protect the Dark Blues' own rearguard.
The Dark Blues' hopes rested on reaching the half time interval only a goal in arrears, with the chance to reorganise for the second half. Sadly things got even worse in the last minute of the first half.
Kyle Benedictus slipped again, allowing Loy to run clear. He took the ball round Letheren, who brought him down. Referee Mr Madden produced his red card and the Dark Blues' slender hopes of getting anything from the match vanished.
Christian Nadé was the unfortunate player to be sacrificed to allow substitute keeper Dan Twardzik to take his place in goal. It wasn't a happy debut for Nadé who'd had no opportunity to show what he could do in a poor team display.
Twardzik gave the Dark Blues support something to cheer at last by diving left to block Loy's weak penalty, but that was the last moment the fans had any cause to smile.
Gavin Rae came on at half time, replacing Stephen Hughes, and Jim McAlister moved to right midfield.
Falkirk should have extended their lead within 20 seconds of the restart. Benedictus misjudged a bouncing ball, and Roberts ran in on goal. He seemed sure to score, but carelessly dragged his shot wide.
The half time change made little difference to the Dark Blues. McAlister perked up the right side of the team, but Dundee missed his drive in the middle.
Peter MacDonald worked tirelessly chasing optimistic long balls, but he was denied any effective support and could do nothing on on his own.
Falkirk were in cruise control and embarrassingly comfortable at this stage. Twardzik was kept busy with a succession of shots from distance and around the edge of the penalty area. The only criticism that could be made of Falkirk was that they showed a certain carelessness in the final third, and were content to take pot shots rather than drive through the Dundee defence.
Roberts did pass up a golden close range chance when he wastefully flicked a cross well wide. However, he made amends when he raced down the left and whipped a dangerous low cross into the goal mouth. LOY timed his run perfectly and couldn't miss from three yards; 2-0 and the game was over.
Peter MacDonald sent a free kick wide from 20 yards. He then played substitute Martin Boyle in to shoot from an angle, but McGovern spread himelf well to save. Apart from those efforts Dundee could point only to a Gallagher header that drifted wide following a corner and a couple of wild shots from MacDonald and Irvine.
The Bairns saw out the match easily, content to settle for a two goal win rather than punishing the Dark Blues more severely. Dundee played poorly and lost badly at Falkirk in September. If anything this was a worse performance today. In the previous match Dundee created good early chances. Today Dundee didn't even have a shot, or an attack worth reporting till the game was out of reach.
There was a very healthy turn out of 913 Dundee supporters in today's crowd. Every single one of them must have felt let down by this performance. Sadly Dundee got just about everything wrong today and Falkirk were superior in every respect.
Falkirk FC 4-4-2
Duffie, Flynn, Vaulks, Kingsley
Alston (Fulton 80), Millar, Sibbald (Leahy 85), McGrandles
Roberts (Shepherd 89), Loy
Unused substitutes: Bowman (gk), Durojaieye, Dick, Small
Goals: McGrandles (16), Loy (72)
Dundee FC 3-5-2 for first half hour, then 4-4-2
Gallagher, Lockwood (Boyle 80), Benedictus
Irvine, Hughes (Rae 45), Davidson, McAlister, Dyer
Nadé (Twardzik gk 44), MacDonald
Unused subs: McBride, Conroy, Monti, Wighton
Bookings: Lockwood (foul on Alston), Benedictus (foul on Roberts), Davidson (pushing the Falkirk defensive wall)
Sent off: Letheren (denying goal scoring opportunity)
Attendance: 4,183 (913 Dundee supporters)
Referee: Bobby Madden
Report: James Christie
Dundee were unchanged from last week. Craig Beattie wasn't fit enough to take a place on the bench where he was replaced by Stephen O'Donnell, a welcome sight after being unavailable through injury since the January 2nd.
Dundee had marginally the better of the first half, but that was largely due to the vulnerability of the Bairns' defence rather than Dundee dominating the play. Nicky Riley was a constant threat and created several moments of panic in the visitors' defence.
The Falkirk centre backs had not looked comfortable and it was no surprise when the opening goal came from a defensive error. Will Vaulks was a couple of yards inside the penalty area when he needlessly threw both hands into the air to block a MacDonald cross. Ryan CONROY was back on spot kick duties after MacDonald's miss against Livingston and he confidently struck the penalty home.
Twice in recent weeks Dundee have conceded soft equalisers immediately after taking the lead. Again the Dark Blues gave the supporters an agonising couple of minutes following the goal. Gary Irvine nodded a harmless long ball backwards and past Letheren, who had already started coming out to collect the ball. The home crowd looked on aghast as the ball trundled towards the net. Happily Iain Davidson prevented a ludicrously embarrassing own goal by racing back to scoop the ball off the line.
Within seconds Falkirk did get the ball into the net when McGrandles poked home a free kick, but the assistant referee's flag was up and the support breathed another sigh of relief.
The Bairns should have scored when Philip Roberts sped past Irvine and into the penalty area. Instead of shooting he served up a great chance for Rory Loy who seemed certain to score, but Kyle Letheren raced forward to pull off a fantastic save.
The second half was long, tense and frustrating as a disjointed Dundee tried and failed to seal victory. Meanwhiie the fast moving visitors always looked capable of grabbing an equaliser, though their neat football and movement was often undermined by poor decisions and impetuosity in the final third. Jay Fulton provided a good example of these failings when he skinned Nicky Riley on the left and then tried to score from an impossible angle. Letheren duly saved while Fulton's team mates were screaming for a cut back.
That save was routine, but the next was was something special. Roberts pace was causing Dundee problems. He raced clear down the left and cut in to try and curl a shot round Letheren, but the keeper brilliantly tipped the ball round the post.
Dundee meanwhile had plenty of possession, but like the visitors they were struggling to find the right final ball. With 20 minutes to go John Brown replaced Craig Wighton with Kevin McBride. Nicky Riley had been having a fine match and moved into a central striking role, leaving the right midfield slot for McBride, presumably to provide better cover than the more adventurous Riley could offer.
As the clock wound down Falkirk had two more chances. Substitute Flynn lashed at a loose ball 15 yards out, but his shot was too close to Letheren who nevertheless did well to hold it. Luke Leahy, also a substitute, should have done better than to turn a cross over the bar from a few yards out, admittedly under pressure from Irvine.
As Falkirk pushed men forward Dundee threatened to grab a killer second goal on the break. Twice the Dee broke clear with men over. The first time MacDonald chose to shoot rather than crossing, but McGovern saved well, turning his chip over the bar. The second break broke down messily when MacDonald fluffed his pass after cleverly making space.
Dundee seemed to have weathered the storm but two and a half minutes into stoppage time Falkirk conjured up a fluky equaliser. Kevin McBride's arrival had stiffened the right side of the defence, but it was from that area that the goal came. Loy managed to reach the byline and his fierce cross was deflected into the face of LEAHY and the ball looped agonisingly past Letheren and inside the post. It was a hard one for the Dundee support to take, but no-one would have complained if a more orthodox equaliser had arrived earlier.
Today the Dark Blues lacked the drive and cohesion that they've shown recently in their good run. The Bairns' defence was vulnerable, but the Dee rarely troubled them after half time. The passing and movement were not good enough and it would have been harsh on Falkirk if they'd not managed to equalise, however late and lucky the goal might have been.
In September Dundee played very poorly against the Bairns and deservedly lost. Today they were far better, but still some way short of the standards the players should be setting. If today's disappointing performance is repeated against Hamilton next week then there is a real danger that Accies will open up a lead in the Championship that will be difficult to pull back.
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Irvine, Gallagher, Davidson, Lockwood
Riley (Monti 90), McAlister, Rae, Conroy
MacDonald, Wighton (McBride 69)
Unused subs; Twardzik (gk), O'Donnell, Doris, Thomson, Boyle
Goal; Conroy (23 pen)
Booked; McAlister (foul on McGrandles), MacDonald (foul on McGovern), Gallagher (foul on Roberts)
Falkirk FC 4-4-2
Duffie (Leahy 69), McCracken (Flynn 52), Vaulks, Kingsley
Fulton, Millar, McGrandles, Sibbald (Alston 58)
Unused subs; Bowman, (gk), Durojaiye, Bingham, Shephard
Goal; Leahy (92)
Booked; Millar (foul on MacDonald), Vaulks (foul on Riley), Roberts (confrontation with Gallager)
Referee; Stevie Reilly
Report; James Christie
John Brown made four changes after last week's draw against Hamilton. Riley, Conroy, Doris and Monti came in for Benedictus, McBride, MacDonald and Beattie as the Dee reverted to a 4-4-2 formation. However, Nicky Riley was playing at the front of a midfield diamond, behind the strikers, with McAlister and Conroy on either and Rae as the holding midfielder.
Dundee's run of four clean sheets in the league was extended by only another 12 minutes. Stephen Kingsley was allowed too much space on the left. His hard low cross in between the keeper and defenders caused indecision in the Dee defence and Rory LOY smashed the ball home at the far post.
Dundee had already passed up two good chances by that stage. Carlo Monti headed into the path of Steven Doris, who shot weakly straight at keeper McGovern. Jim McAlister then swapped passes with Doris to race into the penalty area, but fired narrowly wide.
Neither side was able to get the ball down and play good football. Falkirk did try harder than Dundee to play a composed game. Too often the Dee took the easy option of lumping the ball forward to Doris and Monti. On the odd occasion that Dundee did manage to play the ball through the middle the Bairns' defence looked uncomfortable. However, Falkirk were more successful in getting players into space in wide positions and Dundee always looked likely to ship more goals.
Ryan Conroy came close to an equaliser, hitting the outside of the post after the ball broke to him from a Riley cross. Riley again got in a good cross after neat skill on the left, but Conroy blasted Doris's knock down well over the bar.
At the other end Fulton combined well with Sibbald before drilling a low cross into the danger area that Davidson did well to hack clear.
Conroy pulled an 18 yard shot wide after beating a man to make space. Riley then sent a hurried shot too high from just outside the after Flynn had given the ball away.
A farcical episode late in the first half summed up Dundee's sloppy defending. A poor long ball into space on the Dundee left was ignored by the defence and Loy was able to jog up the pitch and cut in on goal. The Dark Blues were fortunate to escape in the scramble that followed his cut back, but that was to be the last time they would get away with amateurish defending.
There was still hope at half time that Dundee could get something out of the match. The overall quality of the game had been very poor, and Falkirk could have been in trouble if Dundee had got their game together. Sadly, in the second half the Dee went from bad to worse and handed the points to the Bairns in an atrocious 30 minute spell.
Fulton cleverly found space on the right and Irvine did well to turn his low cross over the bar. Next time Dundee were opened up on the flanks their luck ran out. Roberts' low cross took a deflection that deceived Letheren and his defence, and allowed FULTON to score at the far post. Gallagher managed to scoop the ball away, but the ball looked well over the line.
Two years ago in the Deefiant season Dundee reacted to falling two goals behind with determination and belief. Today the second goal finished the Dark Blues. There was no reaction and no sign of any conviction that the players could dig themselves out of the hole.
All over the park Dundee were careless and sluggish. Peter MacDonald came on for Monti at half time, but struggled to do anything with the poor service he was getting. Doris and Riley were replaced by Beattie and Boyle, who moved to the right wing as Dundee switched to a flatter midfield four. The changes made no difference and it was no surprise when Dundee fell further behind.
Yet again Falkirk opened up Dundee on the right. Alston and Fulton exchanged passes, and Fulton's cut back was blasted high into the net by LOY from close in.
The scoreline might quickly have got even worse. A mistake by Davidson allowed Roberts to run in from the left wing. Letheren managed to save and when the resulting corner came over the keeper had to dive to save a header from substitute McCracken.
A rare good move through the middle from Dundee ended with MacDonald setting up Conroy to shoot, but McGovern saved. Beattie then powered through the middle and forced the ball through to Conroy. The midfielder's shot was heading wide but McCRACKEN stuck out a leg and the ball pinged past his own keeper.
Dundee did rouse themselves to spend more time in Falkirk's half, but the only real effect of the goal was to persuade the home side to settle for a comfortable 3-1 win. The Bairns had no difficulty running the clock down as Dundee's new found urgency only meant they were making mistakes faster and losing the ball quicker.
There were no positives from this performance, no hard luck stories and no excuses. Falkirk looked less impressive than Hamilton did last week, but they were much better than Dundee. The Dark Blues rode their luck against Accies, but today they were found out and got what they deserved.
There's nothing positive I can say about this game. The Dee were sloppy and error prone in defence, one paced and lacking composure in midfield, and lacking width and penetration in attack. Games between Falkirk and Dundee in recent seasons have been entertaining and high scoring with the Dee generally having the edge. The Bairns have played better in many of these games than they did today, but Dundee's dreadful display meant that it was an easy three points for the hosts. The 535 Dundee supporters in the away stand would have every right to feel badly let down by this performance.
Falkirk FC 4-4-2
Duffie, Flynn, Vaulks (McCracken 59), Kingsley
Fulton, Alston, McGrandles, Sibbald (Leahy 80)
Roberts, Loy (Bingham 68)
Unused substitutes; Bowman (gk), Turnbull
Goals; Loy (12, 63), Fulton 54
Bookings; Duffie (foul on Boyle)
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Irvine, Gallagher, Davidson, Dyer
McAlister, Riley (Boyle 61), Rae, Conroy
Doris (Beattie 58), Monti (MacDonald 45)
Unused subs; Twardzik (gk), Thomson, Lockwood, McBride
Goal; McCracken (73 og)
Attendance; 3,349 (535 Dees)
Referee; Willie Collum
Report; James Christie
The Dee took an early lead through Stephen O'Donnell. Although Mark Millar soon equalised, further goals from Ryan Conroy and Steven Milne allowed Dundee to cruise through much of the second half with the points looking safe. The visitors had lots of possession, but little penetration up front. In contrast, Dundee's good football always looked far more likely to have an end product, and they thoroughly deserved the win.
Both teams preferred to pass the ball patiently in midfield, rather than launch quick balls forward, and a typical spell of possession paid off when the Dee took the lead after 11 minutes. Irvine's cross from the right was only diverted out as far as Lockwood. He laid it into the path of O'DONNELL, who beat a man to make space and rifled the ball into the roof of the net from 19 yards.
The Bairns equalised midway through the half when MILLAR was given time to shoot from 25 yards. The ball bounced in front of Douglas and skipped through the keeper, who will know he should have done better.
It took Dundee 10 minutes to restore their lead. Irvine made a clever run in from the right and McBride found him with a lovely chip over the top of the defence. The right back set up Conroy who was in a better position, but the midfielder delayed his shot and had to move the ball on to Milne, who returned it. At last Conroy got his shot away, but Dods deflected the ball over the bar with his arm. The referee, Mr Thomson awarded the penalty and booked Dods.
CONROY scored easily from the spot, with McGovern going the wrong way.
Soon after half time Douglas made amends for his mistake. El Alagui's glancing header from a corner seemed on its way to the back of the net, but the keeper showed he still has the agility to spring to his right and save well.
Dundee went straight up the field and nearly grabbed a third when McCluskey's clever wing play gave him space to cross for Milne to volley narrowly wide.
We had to wait only another couple of minutes for the crucial third goal, which came from smart play by a Dundee youngster and a dreadful blunder from one of the Bairns' kids. McIntosh hooked a cross from the right into the heart of the penalty area. Murray Wallace tried to head the ball out for a corner, but merely sent it straight back to McIntosh, who quickly controlled the ball and fired it into the goalmouth. MILNE stabbed the ball goalwards. McGovern managed to block the ball at point blank range, but with both players on the ground it was the Dee striker who reacted quickest, stretching out to flick the loose ball into the net.
Ryan Conroy came desperately close to a fourth when Milne crossed for him to shoot against the post. The last half hour settled into a repeating pattern in which Falkirk would play the ball around till they gave it away, or tried an overambitious final ball. When Dundee had the ball they were far more careful in possession and more penetrating with their forward passes. Surprisingly there were no more goals, but there was a lot of good football for the supporters to enjoy. After a highly erratic season at home it was certainly pleasant to see Dundee stroll through the closing stages in control.
Jamie McCluskey had an effective game on the right, but he was withdrawn for the last 20 minutes to give Mark Fotheringham an opportunity. Jake Hyde came on for the last 10 minutes, and nearly set up a fourth when he cut in from the left to give O'Donnell another chance to shoot from the edge of the area. This time the keeper managed to save.
This was another good, solid team performance, with every part of the team looking comfortable. Dundee imposed themselves in central midfield, where both O'Donnell and McBride had good games. Milne caused problems continually with his clever movement and willingness to drop deep to link up with midfielders while teammates broke forward beyond him. Both the wide midfielders had good games, using the ball well. Leighton McIntosh never gave the central defenders any peace. He deserved a goal, but will have to be satisfied with a very good assist.
The full backs did well, with Gary Irvine again looking very good coming forward. Craig McKeown and Kyle Benedictus settled down into a confident performance, after a slightly erratic start. They both went for the same high ball early on, and succeeded only in putting each other off! After that they had few problems, and handled Falkirk's lone striker, the dangerous El Alagui, very well.
So three goals, three points, a relaxed end to the game with the points safe; it wasn't the best performance of the season, but it was easily good enough to send the Dark Blue support home in a cheerful mood.
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Irvine, McKeown, Benedictus, Lockwood
McCluskey (Fotheringham 69), O'Donnell, McBride, Conroy
Milne (Chisholm 89), McIntosh (Hyde 81)
Unused subs; Gibson (gk), Weston
Goals; O'Donnell (11), Conroy (34 pen), Milne (56)
Bookings; Lockwood (foul on El Alagui)
Falkirk FC 4-2-3-1
Duffie, Dods, Wallace, Kingsley
Weatherston, Millar, Sibbald
Unused subs; Bowman (gk), Bennett, Dick, Alston, White
Goal; Millar 23
Bookings; Dods (handball)
Referee; Craig Thomson
Report; James Christie
Dundee's only change from Saturday was Ross Chisholm coming into the team and Craig McKeown dropping onto the bench, and move that entailed Gary Irvine and Rhys Weston returning to their usual positions at right back and centre back respectively.\
Falkirk could have taken the lead in the fourth minute when Duffie's deep cross found El Alagui at the far post, but Douglas pushed his header away.
From then on the first half belonged largely to Dundee, who kept threatening to open up a nervous and sometimes disorganised home defence.
Yet again Dundee were knocking the ball around well in midfield, but a Dee goal looked most likely to come from a mistake by the defence.
Jake Hyde nearly opened the scoring when he pounced on a weak back pass by Wallace, who was fortunate that his clumsy attempted recovery didn't bring the Dundee striker down. Hyde kept his feet and tried to trick his way round McGovern, but the keeper foiled him with a desperate grab at the ball just before he could score.
Moments later the Bairns defence was again at sea when Hyde robbed Wallace, but the chance was lost with a poor pass when he tried to set up Milne.
Dundee were made to pay for their failure to build on their dominance. Gibson ran clear on the right, looking suspiciously offside, and lifted the ball over the onrushing Douglas. McGregor managed to clear the ball of the line, hooking it onto the bar, but the ball fell kindly for EL ALAGUI, who tapped it into the empty goal.
The Dee reacted well to the setback and kept up the pressure on Falkirk. The home defence got into a mess that gave O'Donnell space to shoot just wide from 18 yards. The Bairns had another escape when Duffie sent a poor headed clearance to Milne, who shot well over.
Dundee continued pushing forward into the second half, and McGovern made a fine save from O'Donnell after Conroy had teed up Hyde's cross.
Carl Finnigan came on for the last half hour, replacing Ross Chisholm. Milne switched to left midfield, and Conroy moved infield.
The newcomer nearly had an immediate impact when Hyde and Conroy combined well to give him a sight of goal, but his shot was blocked. A minute later Finnigan had a good turn and shot but McGovern saved well.
As the game wore on Falkirk picked up confidence and started to take the ball to Dundee, who were beginning to look short of ideas. However, the Dee weathered the tricky spell and pushed back for the equaliser their play merited, and which always looked possible against a home defence that constantly gave the ball away.
At last, after 87 minutes it arrived. Falkirk conceded possession too easily on the halfway line. Gary Irvine took the ball, made space cleverly and fed a good pass through the inside right channel for FINNIGAN to run on and score with a neat shot across McGovern from 12 yards.
Dundee might have snatched a winner right at the end when Finnigan brilliantly eluded two defenders on the byline and crossed. Irvine stabbed at the ball and McGovern did very well to push the ball wide for a corner.
A draw was the least Dundee deserved, and with a bit more invention, directness or better finishing it would certainly have been three points. Even one point is a frustrating result when Dundee had most of the chances, certainly the best ones, and up against a defence that never looked happy at any stage.
For the second game running Dundee needed a very late equaliser to give them a point. However, this was a much better performance than we saw at Dumfries on Saturday. This run of four draws is proving very costly to Dundee's title challenge, but tonight they were coming nearer to their true form. They will need to reach that form on Saturday in the key game at home to Ross County. Nothing less will do.
Duffie, Dods, Wallace, Scobbie
Fulton, Murdoch, Millar, Sibbald (Kingsley 74)
El Alagui, Gibson (Alston 70)
Unused subs; Bowman (gk), Bennett, White
Goal; El Alagui (27)
Booking; El Alagui (foul on McGregor)
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Irvine, Weston, McGregor, Lockwood
McCluskey, O'Donnell, Chisholm (Finnigan 58), Conroy
Hyde (Bayne 83), Milne
Unused subs; Gibson (gk), McKeown, Benedictus
Goal; Finnigan (87)
Booking; McGregor (foul on El Alagui)
Referee; Charlie Richmond
Report; James Christie