Motherwell Under 20s came from behind to secure a deserved point at a freezing cold Excelsior Stadium this afternoon.
The Bairns got themselves in front early on through Lewis Small and held that lead until just after half-time when Bob McHugh netted from close range.
Both sides battled hard for a winner but a draw was a fair outcome in a match with very little between the teams.
Motherwell had a number of players with first-team experience in the starting eleven. Simon Ramsden, Fraser Kerr, Zaine Francis-Angol, Stevie Hetherington and Bob McHugh could all count on game time with Stuart McCall’s side.
However, it took the young Falkirk just six minutes to take the lead and, as has been the case for most of the season, the Steelmen will be disappointed with their defending. Liam Rowan was afforded far too much space on the right flank and his low, teasing ball across the face of goal was tucked away by Small from close range despite the best efforts of Ross Stewart in the home goal.
Motherwell regrouped and Bob McHugh tested Bairns keeper Graham Bowman with a stinging effort from distance the brought about a smart save.
Minutes later McHugh had another opportunity to bring the scores level. Good build-up play down the right eventually led to a curling cross from Kerr. The striker peeled off his marker in the centre but, on the stretch, could only turn his header inches of the crossbar.
Whilst Johansson’s men were starting to take a grip of the match, Falkirk almost doubled their advantage on the counter attack. A neat ball through the middle had David Weatherston in on goal but his low shot was well turned round by Stewart at the expense of a corner.
Falkirk got to the break ahead but not before a tight call from assistant John Gilmour denied the Steelmen a leveller.
A corner from the left was flicked on by Fraser Kerr and McHugh hooked the ball into the net from close range. The assistant’s flag was up and the goal was disallowed. Replays certainly look as if the striker was level with both Liam Rowan and Kris Faulds who were trying to push out from protecting the posts.
So it was with some sense of injustice that Motherwell trooped into the dressing room at the interval. That would be extinguished just four minutes after the restart as McHugh got the goal his play to that point had deserved.
A lovely passing move involving every Motherwell player on the pitch, with the exception of ‘keeper Stewart and Jack Leitch, eventually ended at the feet of Moore on the right flank. His tantalising low ball across the face of the goal found McHugh who slid the ball home from close range.
The Steelmen went on to have much more of the ball for the remainder of the half without creating too much in the way of clear cut chances. In fact, it was Stewart who had to look smart with a couple of decent saves to deny Leahy and Rowan.
Craig Moore looked to be Motherwell’s main threat and had three half-chances to score late on. His first was a dragged shot wide of the post, the second a header that bounced a yard wide of the post and the third, right on the final whistle, was a stinging effort from the edge of the box straight at Bowman who gathered at the second attempt.
MOTHERWELL: Stewart, Kerr (Asghar 60), Francis-Angol, Neill, Ramsden (Green 46), Leitch, Hetherington, Moore, Johnstone, Bossekota (McCafferty 75), McHugh.
SUBS NOT USED: Thomas, Shirkie
GOALS: McHugh (49)
BOOKED: Moore (68), Johnstone (87)