For the second successive game, an early goal was enough to seal a much-needed victory as Thomas Mikkelsen’s 7th-minute tap-in proved enough to see off Falkirk.
By Ally Stewart
After a couple of ambitious efforts from Gillespie and then Paul McMullan, the hosts took a 7th-minute lead after capitalising on a slip up in the Falkirk defence. Goalkeeper Robbie Thomson laid the ball out to left back Paul Watson who lost possession to the in rushing Willo Flood. The United man surged into the area and drilled a low ball across the face of goal which Thomas Mikkelsen tucked into the net from close range. 4 minutes later Gillespie, who had made a bright start to the game, won possession in the Falkirk half before running towards goal and firing a low left-foot shot narrowly wide of Thomson’s post. The visitors tried to respond and enjoyed a larger share of possession thereafter. Despite this, there was another chance for the hosts in the 23rd minute when McDonald lifted the ball across the 6-yard box to Billy King whose shot was heading back towards the far post before being cleared. The Bairns then had their most notable effort to then when Louis Longridge saw his low shot on target blocked by Stewart Murdoch. Just after half an hour in McMullan forced Thomson into a fine save after Mikkelsen chased a through ball and back-heeled into his path. The United winger struck a powerful first time shot from the left side of the area and would have found the net but for a fine fingertip stop from the Falkirk keeper. The half ended with United again looking the more likely, but it remained the single goal advantage as the players headed down the tunnel.
Five minutes after the restart the Tangerines came close to extending their lead when McMullan drove right through the heart of midfield and to the bye line before lifting a teasing ball up to far post. With both McDonald and Mikkelsen lurking there were appeals for a penalty when Mikkelsen appeared to be pushed from behind preventing him from meeting the cross. To the fury of the home fans behind the goal referee Craig Thomson waved play on. The first clear opening for the visitors came on 56 minutes when a break of the ball at the edge of the box fell kindly to Alex Jakubiak whose hurried effort was screwed wide when he should’ve done better. United went back up the other end and the lively McMullan created another chance for McDonald whose well hit drive was blocked for a throw. Moments after entering the fray in place of King, sub Matty Smith’s first involvement was a short header back to Mehmet which was latched onto by Longridge. The United keeper came out quickly to narrow the angle and blocked from close range before the ball ran out for a goal kick. In the 81st minute McMullan had a chance to seal the points for the hosts after McDonald showed strength to lay the ball into his path. Taking the ball into the box McMullan turned inside but could only drag his low right foot shot wide from a good position.
United – Mehmet, Murdoch, McMullan (Fraser 90), McDonald, Mikkelsen, King (Smith 77), Flood, Robson (Scobbie 88), Gillespie, Ralston, Mohsni. Subs not used – Lewis, Edjenguele, Briels, Smith, Glass.
Falkirk - Thomson, McGhee, Muirhead, Taiwo, Sibbald, Longridge, Tumilty (Kidd 67) Jakubiak, Robson (Grant 36), Watson, Welsh (McKee 67). Subs not used – Hazard, Harris, O’Hara, Blair.
Man of the Match – There were strong displays from Mikkelsen, Gillespie and Mohsni, however, the award goes to livewire Paul McMullan whose energetic running at the Falkirk defence was a constant threat.
Attendance – 5170
Referee – Craig Thomson