Falkirk`s Failure Frustrates FansDate: Thursday, 18th May 2023
On Saturday, the Second-Legs of the SPFL cinch Championship Play-Offs took place, with no real major shocks in either of the two ties.
Airdrieonians were 6-2 up on Falkirk following the First-Leg on Tuesday and looked to have one foot in the Play-Off Final already.
While Hamilton Academical, despite being a goal behind, were at home in their Second-Leg with Alloa Athletic and were slight favourites to progress.
However, the Wasps nearly caused a major sting in the tail after going 3-0 up on aggregate, thanks to goals by Connor Sammon and Stefan Scougall.
Brian Rice`s men had also missed a penalty and had a man sent-off; George Stanger was given an early bath against his former side for two yellow cards.
But, John Rankin`s men were not for giving up, despite the abuse being received from the stand above the dugout, hurled at players, management staff and Board members alike.
Highlights: Hamilton Academical 5(5)-2(3) Alloa Athletic
The Accies would fight their way back into the match and were quickly in front before the half-time whistle had even sounded. A real kick in the teeth to the visitors who looked comfortably ahead just ten minutes prior.
A fifth goal early in the second-half compounded matters further; the game was now done as a contest and the Championship side would live to fight another day, in their bid to avoid the drop.
For Brian Rice, he will be incredibly proud of his players for the season they have had and be optimistic for next term already, but will know his side have just blown a fantastic opportunity to go 180 minutes away from winning promotion back to Scotland`s second-tier.
Brian Rice discusses the 5-2 defeat to Hamilton Academical on his Club`s TV Channel
So, Hamilton would face the winners of Airdrieonians against Falkirk: the task was enormous for John McGlynn`s side but they were given initial hope when Josh Rae was dismissed with a straight red card during the First-Leg.
This left the Diamonds with only 37-year-old, ex-Pars goalie, David Hutton available – an able deputy with much experience, but player-manager Rhys McCabe has shown throughout the campaign his preference for an emergency loan goalkeeper to start if Rae wasn`t available.
This has saw Murray Johnson of Hibs and Dean Lyness of St Mirren being called upon for a helping hand throughout the season. Early on Saturday morning saw the announcement on Twitter of the arrival of Darren Jamieson from Kelty Hearts to relieve saw of the stress on the 30-year-old former Pars midfielder when it came to his team selection.
Jamieson was called into action twice early on but was up to the task despite the late call to play in the match, clutching onto one save before tipping another shot expertly around the post for a corner.
But despite the Bairns pressure and territory, they rarely looked like scoring. The urgency within the side was poor and they looked a defeated outfit before a ball was even kicked.
Highlights: Falkirk 0(2)-1(7) Airdrieonians
With half-time approaching, the visitors launched a long throw-in into the penalty box; a mix-up between Coll Donaldson and Brad McKay allowed Gabby McGill to nick in and notch another goal in an impressive season for the Englishman, to kill the tie dead if it wasn`t already.
Some Falkirk supporters would leave at the break, but the vast majority remained – presumably in the hope of seeing a reaction and a rallying 45 minutes which ultimately may end in defeat on aggregate, but a win on the day to at least soften the blow.
Unfortunately, McGlynn`s side were unable to muster very much of note, despite probing, huffing and puffing, the Diamonds were very comfortable and not willing to expend energy unnecessarily with Hamilton to come in just a few days time.
Falkirk Daft review the Play-Off defeat to Airdreonians
So, joining Athletic in the Championship next year will either be Airdrieonians – a tough opponent from this season who would add a lot to Scotland`s second-tier if promoted.
Or, Hamilton Academical, a side who have slowly improved under John Rankin - as well as winning the SPFL Trust Trophy Final against Raith Rovers – and if they remain up, you`d expect them to continue to be a difficult and competitive outfit under the stewardship of Rankin next term.
However, it`ll be back to Kelty, Montrose and Dumfries for Falkirk, who will now have intense pressure on them to win the title next season. Queen of the South will remain full-time and remain a threat under Marvin Bartley, while the loser of the Play-Off Final will also fancy their chances.
Don`t forget Cove Rangers under Paul Hartley, who will want to make an immediate return to the Championship, while Annan Athletic (assuming they see off Clyde in the League 1 Play-Off Final) would be a completely new challenge and an unknown quantity.
John McGlynn`s Post-Match thoughts on FalkirkTV