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Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Saturday, 13 September 2008 16:58 UK

Falkirk 2-1 Hearts

Neil McCann celebrates
McCann put Falkirk ahead against his former club

Scott Arfield gave Falkirk their first league victory of the season - and their first points - with a late winner against Hearts.

Former Hearts midfielder Neil McCann had given the Bairns the lead with a low drive after just three minutes at Falkirk Stadium.

Michael Stewart struck after 71 minutes, firing a long-range drive home to pull the sides level.

But Arfield fired home from 18 yards with a minute left.

Hearts, who began the day in third place, had handed a debut to Adrian Mrowiec, the Polish midfielder on loan from FBK Kaunas, with Andy Driver and David Obua missing through injury.

But it was another debutant who quickly broke the deadlock - and against his former club.

McCann had missed the start of the season with a hamstring problem, while Tam Scobbie, Michael Higdon and Burton O'Brien also returned from injury and Russell Latapy and summer signing Steve Lovell were deemed fit enough for the bench.

And the former Rangers and Scotland winger struck after three minutes after Graham Barrett made a fine burst down the right and his cross was only partially cleared by Christophe Berra.

McCann, a Scottish Cup winner with Hearts in 1998, wasted no time in rifling an angled shot under goalkeeper Marian Kello.

Adrian Mrowiec challenges Neil McCann
Mrowiec made his debut for Hearts at Falkirk Stadium

Falkirk had started in lively fashion and came close to adding a second goal after eight minutes when Barrett's free-kick was only just deflected over for a corner.

Hearts sought a foothold in the contest and almost replied when Jamie Mole and Laryea Kingston linked up, with the latter striking a low shot towards the bottom corner that was parried away by goalkeeper Robert Olejnik.

Mrowiec had a shot on the turn cleared off the line by Jackie McNamara, but Falkirk were still in front at half-time.

Hearts were straight on the offensive after the re-start, but Higdon responded with a neat curling drive straight at Kello.

Falkirk were being pinned back and only last-ditch clearances from Scobbie and Lee Bullen preserved the Bairns' lead.

O'Brien then threw his body in front of a fierce Andrius Ksanavicus drive with the Lithuanian demanding a penalty.

McCann was withdrawn to a standing ovation after 64 minutes, as fellow summer signing Lovell came on, but it was Hearts who got the goal their second-half efforts probably deserved on 71 minutes.

Darren Barr cleared his lines, but the ball fell at the feet of his Scotland colleague Stewart, who fired a shot from 18 yards into the bottom right-hand corner.

Lovell had an excellent chance to restore the lead after 77 minutes, racing through on goal before cutting inside, only for Marius Zaliukas to deflect his attempt wide.

The game looked set to peter out towards a draw.

But, with a minute left, Lovell neatly played the ball back to Arfield and he calmly placed a shot into the bottom left corner to spark much jubilation.

There was a late scare as Hearts defender Berra saw a downward header bounce up and hit the bar, but the Bairns held on.


Falkirk manager John Hughes:
"We earned it today, it was a spirited performance. It's important to get three points on the board and hopefully it will get us back to playing some good football.

"I felt Hearts were the better football side but in terms of effort and commitment, you have to commend my boys.

"We were quite adventurous with our substitutes and Steve Lovell kept the ball alive for our second goal. It was a good cut-back and Scott Arfield eventually got a bit of luck with his shooting.

"I was delighted for Neil McCann. He's not come here just to see out his career. We've given him a two-year deal and, if we can keep him fit, he'll be worth every penny, along with Jackie McNamara who has been consistently our best player this year."

Hearts manager Csaba Laszlo:
"I think nobody had the feeling we would lose, we controlled the game. Falkirk looked only to the counter attack and we lost the game in the last minute.

"That was very unlucky but that is football and if you have a young team, you must learn sometimes to play simple football in the last two or three minutes.

"In the second half, we had the chance to score the second and the third goal and after Falkirk's goal in injury time, we hit the crossbar.

"We must look to the positives. We don't have the points but the performance was positive. We must believe the football that we play is the football that we need to be successful."


Falkirk: Olejnik, McNamara, Bullen, Barr, Scobbie, McBride, Arfield, O'Brien (Cregg 82), McCann (Lovell 64), Barrett (Mark Stewart 84), Higdon.
Subs Not Used: Flinders, Latapy, Aafjes, McCaffrey.

Booked: Scobbie, Higdon, McBride.

Goals: McCann 3, Arfield 90.

Hearts: Kello, Karipidis (Palazuelos 88), Berra, Lee Wallace, Mikoliunas (Ksanavicius 51), Kingston, Stewart, Jonsson, Zaliukas, Mole (Nade 51), Mrowiec.
Subs Not Used: MacDonald, Makela, Thomson, Rapnik.

Booked: Mikoliunas.

Goals: Stewart 71.

Att: 5,960

Ref: S Conroy


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Neil McCann (Falkirk), 8.00 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.




see also
SPL photo gallery
13 Sep 08 |  Scottish Premier
SPL as it happened
13 Sep 08 |  Scottish Premier


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