Falkirk had to rely on a late equaliser to salvage a point against ninth-placed Dumbarton at home, as The Bairns limp towards the League One title.
Two substitutes combined to create the goal for Falkirk, with Akeel Francis crossing for Anton Dowds, who scored his first goal of 2021.
This cancelled out Dumbarton’s opener, where new signing Rabin Omar latched on to a long ball to put his side ahead mid-way through the second half.
The home side looked to push on for a winner, but this was curtailed by a red card for centre back Mark Durnan on 81 minutes, for violent conduct.
Falkirk remain top of the league, with their lead narrowing to four points.
Falkirk co-manager Lee Miller was disappointed with the result, but believes a point isn’t the worst result in the circumstances.
He said: ““I thought we were a bit sluggish today and we never got going – we just didn’t move the ball as quickly as we would have liked.
“Obviously we want to win all our home games, we have a really good squad, so from that perspective it is two points dropped.
Falkirk now take on Celtic this Saturday in the Scottish cup. Miller is quietly optimistic about his side’s chances.
“We will go there and enjoy the occasion – we’ve got nothing to lose. We will make a good few changes for that game for players needing game time.
“Hopefully the boys enjoy it and we can play a good brand of football, like we did against `
Rangers earlier in the season.”
The Bairns aren’t yet the finished article
Whilst Falkirk are top the table, they do still have their deficiencies – particularly at the back.
Up against pacey Dumbarton attackers PJ Crossan and Rabin Omar, the entire defence – who struggle for pace – were unable to cope at times.
Both Mark Durnan and Ben Hall made mistakes which led to bookings. Hall was yellow carded after being beaten for pace by Rabin Omar, and Mark Durnan was sent off after raising his arm against Robert Jones, after being unable to deal with the busy striker.
While Falkirk’s defence is full of experience, it is lacking in pace, and the inclusion of Lewis Neilson close to the end showed that there is a potential for more pace and dynamism at the back for Falkirk.
Falkirk look set on 4-3-3
One of the key differences in Falkirk’s play after the enforced Covid-19 break in play has been the switch in formation from an ineffective 4-4-2 to a free-flowing 4-3-3.
This has allowed Falkirk’s most creative players to have the space to influence games, as seen in wins against Arbroath and Forfar, where the likes of Blair Alston and Charlie Telfer have thrived.
Against Dumbarton however, Falkirk had a lot of the ball in midfield, but failed to create many chances from open play. This was rooted in a failure to engage the front three in attacks, with left winger Robbie Leitch particularly anonymous.
Callumn Morrison, normally so electric, also struggled to break through the stubborn Dumbarton defence.
It seems that Falkirk need to find a new Plan B, when they face a well organised outfit like Dumbarton.
Dumbarton aren’t the team their league position suggests
Dumbarton were well worth their point on Tuesday night, and perhaps could have gone away with all three if they had been more clinical.
On-loan Rabin Omar impressed throughout, with PJ Crossan a handful on the opposite wing too.
They were solid at the back as well, compacting into a defensive 4-5-1 shape when Falkirk attacked. This left the Bairns with an almost impossible task to weave through the away side’s defence.
Consistently picking up points is now key for the Sons, who are firmly in a relegation battle after Clyde defeated Peterhead 2-0
Dumbarton manager Jim Duffy said: “That was a top point against an exceptional side. For us to come here and get a point is fantastic – we made it really difficult for them.
“Now we need to take that performance into the game in a couple days against Airdrie.”
Falkirk must take each game as it comes
Falkirk fans are, probably rightly, becoming impatient with the clubs attempt to gain promotion back to the Championship.
But, while this is a disappointing result for the Bairns, they remain four points clear at the top of the table.
Lee Miller has no interest in the numbers at the top of the table at the moment though.
“It’s good to be top of the league and four points clear, but it is not something we should dwell on.”
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