Hibs 0 Falkirk 1: Hibees stung by Bairns backheel

Falkirk's Blair Alston battles with Hibs Matthew Kennedy. Pic Lisa Ferguson
Falkirk's Blair Alston battles with Hibs Matthew Kennedy. Pic Lisa Ferguson
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A cheeky backheel from Falkirk striker Rory Loy was enough to consign Hibs to a second successive defeat.

But Hibs had only themselves to blame, Alan Stubbs side displaying that old failing which brought them such misery last season, an inability to put the ball into the opponents’ net with former Bairns hitman Farid El Alagui and Paul Heffernan, the most notable culprits, each passing up a couple of gilt-edged chances.

Stubbs made four changes to the side which had lost the first Edinburgh derby of the season, the suspensions handed out to Scott Robertson and Lewis Stevenson in the wake of that trip to Tynecastle forcing his hand while Sam Stanton and Danny Handling dropped to the bench.

Callum Booth returned to make his “debut” second time around after two seasons out on loan at Livingston and Raith Rovers while Scott Allan and Matty Kennedy both started for the first time with Heffernan drafted in to partner El Alagui up front.

Hibs began brightly with Booth and Kennedy combining well down the left as they tried to unpick the Bairns defence, Alex Harris denied the opening goal by a well-timed block as Booth’s cross fell for him.

But it was Falkirk who shocked their hosts by taking the lead in the 13th minute, Craig Sibbald’s corner fell for Conor McGrandles who fed in the ball in low for Loy who, with his back to goal, delivered a cheeky backheel from six yards into the net.

A superb cross from Kennedy supplied Heffernan with a glorious opportunity to level but, with the goal gaping, the striker only managed to send his header wide of the target.

Booth was causing Falkirk all sorts of problems and it was the left back who again carved out a goal-scoring opportunity, knocking the ball in for El Alagui but his shot rippled the sidenetting.

Heffernan again should have equalised, left with a clear sight of goal by El Alagui’s pass but the frontman was denied by former Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald.

Hibs were beginning to turn the screw, Harris blasting a shot over before a long-range effort from Scott Allan had MacDonald diving full-length to his right to push the ball round the post. El Alagui went even closer with a header which clipped the crossbar.

But the Capital club had to be wary of being hit on the break and the should have been two down four minutes before the interval when goalkeeper Mark Oxley brought off a smart save from Loy only for the ball to fall to Blair Alston.

He had the goal at his mercy but from 12 yards out he blasted the ball over. Loy again tested Oxley with a low shot which the keeper managed to push away only this time there was no Falkirk player lurking.

Stubbs would have been alarmed at the space Loy found on the edge of the penalty area at the beginning of the second half, another Bairns goal averted by David Gray’s challenge.

Hibs were seeing plenty of the ball but in order to retain possession against a superbly well-organised Falkirk defence they were often forced to turn back towards their own goal, to the clear frustration of the home fans.

El Alagui had yet another opportunity to score against his old club when referee Crawford Allan over-ruled the offside flag raised by his assistant Graham Fraser but the striker’s attempt to chip MacDonald didn’t carry enough loft and the goalkeeper, at full-stretch, just managed to claw the ball away.

Booth continued to prove a major threat to Falkirk and his ball inside gave Scott Allan an opportunity but his shot on the turn was dragged wide.

Hibs: Oxley, Gray, Nelson, Forster, Booth, Harris (Stanton 80), S Allan (Handling 89), Craig, Kennedy, Heffernan (Cummings 64), El Alagui.

Substitutes not used: Perntreou, Tudur Jones, L Allan, Crane.

Falkirk: MacDonald, Maybury, McCracken, Vaulks, Dick, Taiwo (Cooper 76), Durojaiye, Sibbald, Alston (Leahy 83), McGrandles, Loy (Boulding 90+1).

Substitutes not used: Bowman, Grant, Shepherd, Rowan.

Referee: Crawford Allan.