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Kilmarnock 0-1 Falkirk
Kilmarnock 0-1 Falkirk
Michael Higdon holds off the challenge of Kilmarnock's Frazer Wright
Michael Higdon holds off the challenge of Kilmarnock's Frazer Wright
Falkirk continued their good form with a narrow victory at Rugby Park.

Carl Finnigan scored his second goal in as many games when he headed home a Dean Holden cross on 11 minutes.

Kilmarnock pressurised the Bairns as full-time approached, but veteran Russell Latapy ensured the visitors held firm to register another SPL win.

Frazer Wright was sent off in the dying minutes for a heavy challenge on Falkirk keeper Tim Krul, who himself was red-carded for violent conduct.

Both sides wore black armbands as a mark of respect for Motherwell captain Phil O'Donnell, who died last Saturday, and the crowd at Rugby Park gave a minute's applause in his honour.

Jim Jefferies welcomed back Danny Invincibile and Frazer Wright to the side. They replaced Craig Bryson and the injured Ryan O'Leary, both of whom played in the comprehensive defeat dealt by Inverness Caledonian Thistle last Saturday.

Scotland B defender Darren Barr came in for Gerard Aafjes in the Falkirk defence, and Carl Finnigan replaced striker Graham Barrett.

Carl Finnigan is congratulated by his Falkirk team-mates
Darren Barr (second from the right) congratulates Falkirk goalscorer Carl Finnigan

Kilmarnock began the match looking fairly lively but after Falkirk took the lead the home side struggled to make much of an impact in front of goal.

The Bairns' opener in the 11th minute was inspired by some confident build-up play and a fine cross by Dean Holden. Carl Finnigan nipped in front of Simon Ford and glanced a header beyond Alan Combe from eight yards.

For Finnigan, a product of Newcastle's youth academy, it was his fourth goal of the season and his second in as many matches, following his strike against Hearts last Saturday.

Killie's best spell came midway through the first half when Colin Nish headed into the arms of Tim Krul from six yards.

Then David Fernandez had a right-foot shot on the turn, but a deflection was enough to ensure it didn't have the venom to trouble Falkirk's Dutch goalkeeper.

For the second half Jim Jefferies introduced new signing Alan Morgan, arriving from Inverness on a free transfer, in place of David Fernandez in an attempt to enliven the play up front.

In 52 minutes, Krul saved well from a powerful Danny Invincible shot after the midfielder surged towards the edge of the box and sent a shot towards the bottom corner of the net.

Four minutes later the home fans were left in a state of anguish when Jamie Hamill volleyed Alan Morgan's corner over the bar from just three yards out.

Referee Iain Brines is probably used to cautioning offenders in his "normal" job as a police officer. But at Rugby Park he made three bookings in only two minutes just after the hour mark.

First, Tim Krul was booked for dissent, then Garry Hay was cautioned for a challenge on Carl Finnigan for a clumsy challenge. Moments later Finnigan found his way into Iain Brines' book when he fouled Frazer Wright.

Russell Latapy, who replaced an off-form Pedro Moutinho in the second half, was in inspirational form for Falkirk. The veteran midfielder evidently enjoys playing on surfaces as good as that on offer at Rugby Park and time after time he was the architect of the Bairns' clever play.

Frazer Wright headed just wide from six yards out in 86 minutes, having met a Gary Wales deep cross.

Kilmarnock tried desperately to grab an equaliser. Jamie Hamill had a shot saved by Tim Krul, Simon Ford had goal disallowed for offside, and then the home side had a penalty claim waved aside.

The match ended in acrimony when Frazer Wright was sent off for a foul on Tim Krul in the Falkirk goal as he followed in on a Jamie Hamill shot. The big Dutch goalkeeper, who was stretched off the pitch, was red-carded for his reaction to the challenge.

The home defeat means Kilmarnock have won only one of their last ten league matches.

For Falkirk, comfortable in possession and resolute in defence, their only defeats in 12 matches have been against Rangers and Celtic.

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