Two down af­ter nine min­utes... but Falkirk hit back to stun Rangers with late win­ner

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FOOTBALL - MATTHEW LIND­SAY AT THE FALKIRK STA­DIUM

RONNY DEILA watched the Rangers team his Celtic side will take on in the Scot­tish Cup semi-fi­nal next month squan­der an early two-goal lead and slump to their third Lad­brokes Cham­pi­onship de­feat of the sea­son.

Deila had ad­mit­ted that he would at­tempt to watch the Ibrox club in per­son af­ter the draw was made and he took ad­van­tage of their Fri­day evening match against their near­est chal­lengers Falkirk to do ex­actly that.

The Nor­we­gian’s pres­ence in the main stand at the Falkirk Sta­dium didn’t go un­no­ticed by the large trav­el­ling sup­port. Af­ter their side had gone two goals in front af­ter just nine min­utes he was treated to a ren­di­tion of “you’re only here to see the Rangers”.

How­ever, the 40-year-old, who was ac­com­pa­nied by his as­sis­tant John Collins, will have left the ground op­ti­mistic that his side can tri­umph in the se­cond Old Firm game of his reign af­ter wit­ness­ing the se­cond-tier lead­ers’ ex­tra­or­di­nary late col­lapse.

Goals from Kenny Miller and Bar­rie McKay in the space of three min­utes early in the game gave Mark War­bur­ton’s men what ap­peared to be a com­fort­able ad­van­tage. Ja­son Holt, Billy King, Lee Wal­lace and Miller again could all have built on that lead if they had taken de­cent chances.

Tav­ernier had the ball in the net in the fourth minute fol­low­ing a tidy in­ter­change be­tween Ja­son Holt and Kenny Miller on the edge of the Falkirk penalty box. How­ever, the as­sis­tant ref­eree ruled his ef­fort off­side.

The right-back set up the first goal just three min­utes later. He burst into the op­po­si­tion area and squared to Miller who was lurk­ing in the six-yard box and had the sim­plest of tasks to stroke the ball into an invit­ing net. It was his 16th goal of the 2015/16 cam­paign. Scorer turned provider in the ninth minute. The striker re­leased his cap­tain Lee Wal­lace down the left wing with an ex­quis­ite pass which suc­cess­fully eluded the out­stretched Falkirk de­fender Aaron Muir­head.

Wal­lace sup­plied Bar­rie McKay and the winger had, as was the case with his team­mate just two min­utes ear­lier, no dif­fi­culty slot­ting past Danny Rogers.

Wes Foder­ing­ham in the Rangers goal had to save long-range shots from Craig Sib­bald and Will Vaulks in the first half and did well to deny Luke Leahy, Vaulks and Myles Hip­polyte in the se­cond as the home team fought hard to claw their way back into the game.

Peter Hous­ton, the Falkirk man­ager, took off Lee Miller and re­placed him with Hip­polyte early in the se­cond half and the change made a def­i­nite dif­fer­ence for the home team. When Blair Al­ston net­ted in the 72nd minute it was very much with the run of play.

The ball fell to Al­ston on the edge of the Rangers box and he volleyed into the top left cor­ner with the out­side of his right foot. Hip­polyte lev­elled the match six min­utes later with a strike that was cel­e­brated ac­ro­bat­i­cally by the sub­sti­tute.

Bob McHugh re­placed John Baird with 10 min­utes of the game re­main­ing and he popped up in the se­cond minute of in­jury-time to net a late and richly de­served win­ner for the home team.

Falkirk Rogers, Leahy, Muir­head, Mc­Cracken, Vaulks, Taiwo, Al­ston, Baird (McHugh, 80), Sib­bald (O’Hara, 75), Miller (Hip­polyte, 50), Wat­son Subs: Mehmet, Smith, McCann, Gal­lacher. Booked Hip­polyte, Baird Rangers Foder­ing­ham, Tav­ernier, Kier­nan, Wal­lace, Ball, Mil­ller (Clark, 69), Hal­l­i­day, King (O’Hal­lo­ran 69), McKay (For­rester, 60), Holt, Wil­son Subs: Bell, Law, Shiels Ref­eree Kevin Clancy

At­ten­dance 7804

IN­TER­ESTED SPECTATORS: Celtic man­ager Ronny Deila, right, and John Collins last night

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