Holden howitzer bags Bairns a point

Dean Holden scored a spectacular second-half volley to earn Falkirk a 1-1 draw at Motherwell and a valuable point in the battle for survival.

Last Updated: 24/01/09 at 17:57 Post Comment

Holden: Struck superb equaliser

Holden: Struck superb equaliser

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David Clarkson had headed the hosts into a deserved half-time lead at Fir Park but Holden smashed home from 16 yards just after the restart to earn the Bairns a share of the spoils.

Clarkson and Jim O'Brien struck the crossbar and Marc Fitzpatrick and Chris Porter headed wide from close range as Well missed the chance to go level on points with sixth-placed Hibernian.

Late winners elsewhere for Hearts and Dundee United added to the sense of a missed opportunity for Motherwell.

Despite extending their unbeaten run to five games, they will be disappointed not to take all three points against a team who have not won in the SPL since their last meeting in November.

Motherwell gradually took control after two early chances for the visitors.

Graeme Smith gathered Lee Bullen's header through a crowded penalty box and Mark Reynolds recovered from his own error to stop Kevin McBride taking advantage of a one-on-one.

Well were playing some patient passing football on the bumpy surface but Fitzpatrick should have cut out their wait for an opener in the 10th minute.

Porter beat Robert Olejnik to Paul Quinn's long ball just outside the penalty area only for Bullen to clear his effort off the line. The ball fell kindly for Fitzpatrick but, with time to compose himself, he headed over from six yards with the Falkirk goalkeeper still stranded.

Olejnik soon settled his nerves by blocking O'Brien's powerful effort at his near post after the winger had turned Darren Barr.

Falkirk, who had McBride booked for a bad challenge on Stevie Hammell, had been keeping possession well without threatening but they found themselves hemmed into their own half in the latter stages of the first period.

Hammell and Quinn both sent in dangerous low crosses after slick build-up play and Quinn shot over from a tight angle.

Fitzpatrick shot just over from 20 yards after pouncing on a loose pass before Clarkson made the pressure count in the 43rd minute.

The Scotland striker rose well to meet Hammell's cross and looped a header over Olejnik into the far corner.

Clarkson chipped Olejnik from 20 yards after a flowing Motherwell move but saw his shot glance the crossbar and the hosts were soon clawed back thanks to Holden's superb 53rd-minute volley. Motherwell only half-cleared a free-kick and Scott Arfield teed up Holden, who had replaced the absent Jackie McNamara, to fire into the top corner from 16 yards.

Mark McGhee's side had an instant chance to regain the lead when Thomas Scobbie misjudged a long ball but Porter slipped the ball wide from a difficult angle.

The home side then lost Hammell after he was hurt in Barr's late aerial challenge, which had the home fans baying unsuccessfully for referee Crawford Allan to take further action. Fitzpatrick moved to left-back with Keith Lasley coming on in midfield.

Smith made comfortable saves from Steve Lovell and substitute Michael Higdon after long balls put the home defence under pressure.

The second half was proving far more intense and Motherwell again came so close to scoring.

O'Brien curled a 25-yard effort off the underside of the crossbar and Porter headed wide from four yards after beating Scobbie to the rebound.

Falkirk skipper Barr escaped with a warning after another late challenge in the air, this time on Fitzpatrick, before being replaced by Chris Mitchell, who was later cautioned for an innocuous foul on Clarkson.

Motherwell pressed Falkirk back in the final 20 minutes but their final ball deserted them and Quinn fired just wide from 25 yards deep into injury time.

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2 Dundee U 10 7 22
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4 Kilmarnck 10 6 20
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7 Dundee 10 -1 13
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11 Motherwell 10 -12 7
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