Scottish Championship
FalkirkFalkirk1MortonGreenock Morton0

Falkirk 1-0 Greenock Morton

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland at the Falkirk Stadium
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

Formation 4-4-2

  • 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

Formation 4-4-2

  • 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

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Falkirk 1, Morton 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Falkirk 1, Morton 0.

  3. Post update

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

  4. Post update

    Foul by Blair Alston (Falkirk).

  5. Post update

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

  6. Post update

    Foul by Alex Samuel (Morton).

  7. Post update

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

  8. Post update

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

  9. Post update

    Foul by Joe McKee (Morton).

  10. Post update

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

  11. Post update

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

  12. Post update

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

  13. Post update

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

  14. Post update

    Foul by Mark Russell (Morton).

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Morton. Paul McMullan replaces Stefan McCluskey.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Morton. Conceded by Danny Rogers.

  17. Post update

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

  18. Post update

    Foul by Luke Leahy (Falkirk).

  19. Post update

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

  20. Post update

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