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Falkirk defeat Airdrieonians on penalties after last gasp goal

Falkirk FC 2

Rowan 74, Shepherd 120

Airdrieonians FC 2

Wilson 89, Richford 101
  • 2-2 (Falkirk FC win 5-3 on penalties)

Liam Dickson | YFS Central Region Journalist

Michael Fairbanks crucial shoot-out save was enough to see Falkirk scrape past Airdrie and into the Third Round of the SFA Youth Cup.
Late goals in both regulation and extra time ensured the teams went the distance in what was a very back and forth match at Falkirk Stadium. 
A header from Airdrie’s Robert Wilson with minutes remaining cancelled out Liam Rowan’s spot-kick opener, whilst a last gasp extra time equaliser from Falkirk’s Scott Shepherd sent the game to penalties just when it was beginning to look like Kyle Richford’s header early on in additional time was going to be the difference.
It was a breathtaking end to a match that was slow in sparking into life. There were precious few clear goal scoring opportunities during a first half that saw both teams let down by their final pass on a number of occasions. 
Falkirk started the brighter of the two; a well timed pass by Ryan Blair fed in Botti Biabi but his effort with the outside of his right foot slid harmlessly past Airdrie keeper Rohan Ferguson’s far post.
It looked as if Airdrie’s most likely source of a breakthrough would be via a setpiece. On two occasions in the first half the long throw of Richford connected with the head of centre back Wilson, but on both occasions he failed to direct the ball goalwards.
As the half wore on, Airdrie began enjoying extended periods of possession in the Falkirk half but didn’t look like creating anything until a clever through ball from Scott Stewart almost put striker Jamie Watson through on goal. Fairbanks, however, was quick off his line to avert the danger before making a further two blocks on the edge of his area as Airdrie pounced on the loose ball.
It appeared as though both teams had settled for going in goalless at the break. That is, until some slack Airdrie play on the edge of their own box allowed Thomas Grant to win back possession in a dangerous area and poke the ball through to Shepherd who dragged his effort wide from an angle six yards out. His frustration at passing up his first real sight of goal was evident as the teams made their way back down the tunnel at the interval.
The match resumed in much the same way it began; Boabi again came close for Falkirk early on. This time, he showed great pace and skill to beat his man on the left hand side and cut into the box. His shot from six yards out, however, was straight down the keeper’s throat.
Goalkeeper Ferguson went from hero to villain when, not long after making a great save to deny substitute Cameron Blues, he brought down fellow substitute Kevin O’Hara as he attempted to dribble around him. Up stepped right-back Rowan to blast home high to the keepers right and give Falkirk a lead their second half performance merited.
 Airdrie huffed and puffed as they searched for an equaliser but, especially after a Richford header from a brilliant Nicky Cadden free kick was narrowly ruled offside, they’d have been forgiven for accepting that it wasn’t to be their day.
They did keep fighting though and, moments after seeing his header disallowed, Richford recomposed himself to deliver another of his deadly long throws, which this time the towering Wilson was able to direct into the ground and past the keeper, sending the match into extra time in the process.
Buoyed by their late goal, Airdrie appeared the sharper of the two teams as extra time got underway; a string of long range efforts and set pieces kept the Falkirk defence on its toes. They were quickly rewarded for their endeavour when right back John Higgins delivered the cross of the match, splitting the Falkirk centre backs and laying it on a plate for Richford to head into the corner from six yards out.

The rest of extra time was broken up by a series of fouls and stoppages in play that halted Falkirk from building up any momentum as they went looking for an equaliser. Airdrie appeared comfortable defending their lead until a clever Blair free kick struck the inside of the post with centre back Cameron Eadie unable to direct the rebound on target.

Shortly after, Blue’s took advantage of the rattled Airdrie defence to put Shepherd through on goal with a delightful right footed pass. Shepherd took his time, composed himself and slotted low to the keepers left.

With the stage now set for a penalty hero, it was Fairbanks who dutifully stepped up to the plate. With teammates Robbie McNab, Michael Martin, Shepherd, Rowan and Blair all scoring, it was his decisive save from Airdrie’s Marcus McMillan that was enough to separate the sides and ensure Falkirk’s place in the next round.

Final Result: 2-2 (Falkirk FC win 5-3 on penalties)


Falkirk FC
Airdrieonians FC
1. Fairbanks
2. Rowan
3. Gallagher
4. McNab
5. Eadie
6. Hamilton
7. Hogg
8. Blair
9. Shepherd
10. Biabi
11. Grant
12. Erskine
14. Blues
15. Martin
16. O'Hara
17. Small
1. Ferguson
2. Higgins
3. M.Wilson
4. R. Wilson
5. Lowdon
6. McCue
7. Cadden
8. Stewart
9. Richford
10. Watson
11. Haggerty
12. McCart
14. McGregor
15. Johnstone
16. McMillan
17. Loudon
Star Player
Falkirk FC
Airdrieonians FC
Scott Shepherd was a threat all day and eventually reaped the rewards of his performance with a calmly taken goal at the death.
Kyle Richford can count himself unlucky to be on the losing side; he scored one and made the other and where it not for the official’s flag, he may well have been the difference between the sides.
Magic Moment
Falkirk FC
Airdrieonians FC
There were a few, but Cameron Blue’s wonderful pass to play in Scott Shepherd for Falkirk’s equaliser showed incredible vision under pressure. The finish wasn’t bad either.
Undoubtedly John Higgins fantastic cross for Airdrie’s second goal that looked as if it was going to be the difference between the sides.

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