Scobbie the hero for Bairns

A second-half header from Tam Scobbie was enough to ease 10-man Falkirk to a vital 2-1 win over Motherwell in their bid to avoid relegation.

Last Updated: 02/05/09 at 17:53 Post Comment

Scobbie: Crucial goal

Scobbie: Crucial goal

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The local boy scored for the second week running following his goal in last weekend's Homecoming Scottish Cup semi-final win over bitter rivals Dunfermline.

Carl Finnigan handed Falkirk a ninth-minute lead but, after Scobbie had doubled that advantage, the visitors ensured a nervy climax when they pulled one back.

Gerard Aafjes was red-carded for bringing down David Clarkson with 20 minutes remaining and the Motherwell striker made no mistake from the spot.

Falkirk lined up with only one change to the side which sealed their Scottish Cup final place against Rangers later this month and their first-ever qualification for European football next season.

The suspended Michael Higdon dropped out to be replaced by fellow striker Mark Stewart, with Lee Bullen also banned and Steven Pressley having to make do with a place on the bench after his cup semi-final suspension.

Falkirk did not have long to wait for the breakthrough in what many felt was a must-win game for the home side.

Jackie McNamara was involved in a flowing build-up in the ninth minute which saw Scott Arfield feed Neil McCann eight yards out with his back to goal.

The former Scotland winger turned marker Mark Reynolds one way and then the other before unselfishly squaring the ball across the six-yard area for Finnigan to shoot into an empty net.

Dani Mallo preserved the Bairns' lead in the 22nd minute when he pulled off an excellent reaction save from what appeared to be McNamara's attempt to cushion a header back to his own goalkeeper.

Motherwell then enjoyed a lengthy spell of possession in and around the the home penalty box but without really troubling Mallo's goal as the Bairns defence held firm.

John Sutton did steal in on the wrong side of his marker to meet Steven Hammell's cross as Mallo was tempted off his line but his looping header sailed over the crossbar.

As the half drew to a close, it was Falkirk who came closest to adding to the scoring when visiting keeper Graeme Smith raced from his line to deflect over Stewart's shot on the run.

And Scobbie then sent a header from McCann's free-kick just wide as Falkirk finished the stronger.

The hosts opened the second period in apprehensive fashion and allowed Motherwell long spells of possession.

But, just as they had done in the first-half, they struck early in the half to stun their visitors.

McCann won a corner in the 56th minute as he ran at right-back Keith Lasley, who had been booked moments earlier for a foul on Scobbie.

Former Hearts and Rangers winger McCann then curled in a magnificent set-piece which was met by the unmarked Scobbie, who glanced his header into the top corner.

Only four minutes later, the home side passed up a gilt-edged opportunity to seal the three points as Arfield raced clear on goal with only Smith to beat.

However, just as it appeared he was ready to shoot, he tried to find Finnigan at his side and overhit the pass.

Falkirk were made to pay for that profligacy when Clarkson was pulled down by Aafjes in the 69th minute and the Scotland international blasted in from the spot as Aafjes was red-carded for a last-man foul.

Falkirk immediately responded to Aafjes' dismissal by bringing on experienced stopper Steven Pressley at the expense of McCann.

The goal gave Motherwell the upper hand and ensured a nervous climax as they poured men forward in search of an equaliser.

Mallo was forced into a crucial save from Stephen Hughes as Motherwell ratcheted up the pressure late on.

However, the home side held out to seal a crucial three points in their bid to beat the drop.

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1 Hamilton 11 12 23
2 Inverness 11 7 23
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4 Kilmarnck 10 6 20
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