Scottish Championship
Falkirk1Morton0

Falkirk 1-0 Greenock Morton

Paul Watson scores for Falkirk against Greenock Morton
Paul Watson's diving header gave Falkirk the win they needed

Falkirk held on to secure second place in the Championship and a Premiership play-off semi-final berth with a narrow, fraught win over Morton.

Paul Watson's diving header in the second half, from Lee Miller's cross, delivered the critical goal, but there were moments of tension to endure.

Falkirk striker John Baird missed a first-half penalty, and Morton were lively, dangerous opponents throughout.

Declan McManus and Alex Samuel went close for the visitors.

Had their finishing been more accurate, the conclusion would have been even more dramatic.

But it will be Hibernian who will contest the play-off quarter-final against Raith Rovers, with the winner then taking on Falkirk in the semi-final.

Nervy win enough for Falkirk

The Bairns were trusting that their accomplishment would be enough to seal their fate. They sought to be typically poised on the ball and crisp in their passing - and that refinement allowed an elect of command in the early stages.

The occasion could not be denied its influence, though. Once in the final third, the home side had a tendency to be too anxious; to rashly aim for the risky pass rather than the more reliable one.

A feature of the opening half was home manager Peter Houston rushing to the touchline to tell his players to calm down and to urge Lee Miller to hold the ball up as the centre-forward and not keep trying flicks and feints.

Vigilance was also required, since Morton carried a threat in the sharpness and guile of Denny Johnstone and McManus up front. Defender Lee Kilday was presented with a half-chance inside the Falkirk area, but hit his effort straight at Falkirk goalkeeper Danny Rogers.

If Falkirk were alarmed, it did not disrupt their approach. There were moments of hope, when Craig Sibbald headed over and Baird almost converted from close range.

Regret was the players' companion as they left the field at half-time, though, after Baird saw his penalty kick saved by Derek Gaston.

John Baird has a penalty saved for Falkirk against Greenock Morton
Baird could not find the net from 12 yards

The Falkirk striker had earned the spot-kick with a run that seemed to be ended by a trip in the area. Relief was etched on Baird's face three minutes after the break, as he celebrated his side making the breakthrough.

Miller, who along with Mark Kerr was a steadying influence throughout, delivered the cross to the back post that Watson converted with a diving header.

Moments later, Miller had a chance to double the lead, but saw his header from Sibbald's cross saved.

The lead was fragile enough for Falkirk to need a spell of care and composure. Morton were intent on playing an active role in the final drama of the Championship campaign, and Ross Forbes' free-kick was pushed away by the diving Rogers.

As Hibs were racking up chances and two goals at Easter Road against Queen of the South, Falkirk were living on the edge. McManus shot wide after a skilful run, then Samuel headed wide from close range.

In the closing minutes, Falkirk defended with a combination of panic and determination. They did enough to hold on, though, and Hibs were unable to score the two further goals they needed to pip the Bairns to the runners-up spot.

Line-ups

Falkirk

  • 1Rogers
  • 4Muirhead
  • 44Watson
  • 5McCracken
  • 3Leahy
  • 7TaiwoSubstituted forHippolyteat 65'minutes
  • 8Alston
  • 11Kerr
  • 10Sibbald
  • 9BairdSubstituted forMcHughat 69'minutes
  • 18Miller

Substitutes

  • 17Smith
  • 19McHugh
  • 22Hippolyte
  • 23Shepherd
  • 28Mehmet
  • 30O'Hara
  • 33Gallacher

Morton

  • 1Gaston
  • 6MillerSubstituted forRussellat 63'minutes
  • 2Kilday
  • 19Gasparotto
  • 3Lamie
  • 11McCluskeySubstituted forMcMullanat 74'minutes
  • 7McKee
  • 8Forbes
  • 16BarrSubstituted forSamuelat 70'minutes
  • 9Johnstone
  • 21McManus

Substitutes

  • 10MacDonald
  • 12Scullion
  • 17Russell
  • 18Samuel
  • 20McNeil
  • 28Quitongo
  • 33McMullan
Referee:
Kevin Clancy
Attendance:
5,271

Match Stats

Home TeamFalkirkAway TeamMorton
Possession
Home56%
Away44%
Shots
Home11
Away9
Shots on Target
Home6
Away4
Corners
Home4
Away4
Fouls
Home8
Away9

Live Text

Match ends, Falkirk 1, Morton 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Falkirk 1, Morton 0.

Paul McMullan (Morton) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Blair Alston (Falkirk).

Lee Miller (Falkirk) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Alex Samuel (Morton).

Attempt saved. Robert McHugh (Falkirk) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Craig Sibbald (Falkirk) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Joe McKee (Morton).

Attempt missed. Declan McManus (Morton) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

Attempt saved. Declan McManus (Morton) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt saved. Denny Johnstone (Morton) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Blair Alston (Falkirk) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Mark Russell (Morton).

Substitution

Substitution, Morton. Paul McMullan replaces Stefan McCluskey.

Corner, Morton. Conceded by Danny Rogers.

Attempt saved. Ross Forbes (Morton) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Foul by Luke Leahy (Falkirk).

Alex Samuel (Morton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Mark Kerr (Falkirk) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Declan McManus (Morton).

Substitution

Substitution, Morton. Alex Samuel replaces Bobby Barr.

Substitution

Substitution, Falkirk. Robert McHugh replaces John Baird.

Attempt missed. Joe McKee (Morton) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

Substitution

Substitution, Falkirk. Myles Hippolyte replaces Tom Taiwo.

Attempt missed. Declan McManus (Morton) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left from a direct free kick.

Foul by Tom Taiwo (Falkirk).

Declan McManus (Morton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Morton. Mark Russell replaces Michael Miller because of an injury.

Foul by Paul Watson (Falkirk).

Declan McManus (Morton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Declan McManus (Morton) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Corner, Morton. Conceded by Aaron Muirhead.

Attempt missed. Luke Leahy (Falkirk) header from the left side of the box is just a bit too high.

Corner, Morton. Conceded by Mark Kerr.

Blair Alston (Falkirk) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ricki Lamie (Morton).

Attempt saved. Lee Miller (Falkirk) header from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Goal!

Goal! Falkirk 1, Morton 0. Paul Watson (Falkirk) header from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Lee Miller.

Corner, Falkirk. Conceded by Luca Gasparotto.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Rangers36256588345481
2Falkirk361913461342770
3Hibernian36217859342570
4Raith Rovers36188105246662
5Morton361110153942-343
6St Mirren36119164453-942
7Queen of Sth36126184656-1042
8Dumbarton36107193566-3137
9Livingston3687213751-1431
10Alloa3649232267-4521
View full Scottish Championship table

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