That was fantastic, absolutely fantastic. That's the best Stenhousemuir performance I've seen in years - everyone in maroon played well and we thoroughly deserved the win.
My expectations going into the contest were low - Falkirk are a bad side but they had appeared to have shown a degree of competence and organisation in recent weeks, while Stenhousemuir had slumped to the bottom of League 1 and sacked their manager without any apparent thought as what to do next. I thought the visitors would win 2-0, scoring midway through each half in a comfortable display.
And, after seven minutes, I though Stenny were onto a loser when Paul Paton slammed the ball into the net from close range. They were the better team in the opening exchanges, with Tommy Robson a particular danger on the left. Twice he wrong-footed Connor McBrearty as he slalomed into the penalty box and on the second occasion his low cross was, after several attempts, rifled home by Paton.
At this point I feared the worst but we equalised shortly afterwards when McBrearty, unmarked, looped a header beyond Leo Fasan's despairing dive. It was a shabby goal to concede, with no-one appearing to organise the Falkirk defence. Moments later, McBrearty would do the same thing - unmarked, looping header, into the net - and from that point on, Stenny settled into the match and controlled the play. The backline looked comfortable, beyond clearing long balls aimed at Dennon Lewis, the midfield of Mark Ferry, Harry Paton and Kieron Gibbons knocked the ball amongst themselves, and Mark McGuigan tussled with Aaron Muirhead and Pat Brough, often getting the better of them. McGuigan directed Alan Cook's cross narrowly beyond the post and there were a number of shots blocked on the edge of the area. It was straightforward stuff.
Just as the match neared the interval, Falkirk equalised. It was probably the moment of the game - Deimantas Petravicius raced onto a long ball and, with a gorgeous backheel, teed up Joe McKee to arrow a first-time shot low into the corner of the net. (A couple of weeks ago I was out for my dinner in Glasgow and I was sitting across from McKee and he chews with his mouth open and holds his knife and fork in the wrong hand. Make of that what you will.)
It was a crap time to concede and I wondered if it would alter the match and turn it in the Bairns favour but it did not. Stenhousemuir were the better side throughout the second half - Paton was becoming increasingly influential and was fouled about five or six times in succession. Lewis Kidd scythed through him after the whistle had gone and he could have seen a red card if referee Alan Newlands had been a bit more unfavourable. The Warriors retook the lead when Brough, I think, made a hash of controlling a long ball and allowed Mark Ferry to steam in on goal. Rather than shooting, Ferry, excellently, teed up Sean Dickson to stroke the ball into an unguarded net. A beautiful goal and one his performance deserved.
Falkirk could do nothing to change the pattern of the match and their flurry of substitutions failed to make any impact. At the death, McGuigan capped his display by holding off his marker, rolling round him and shooting across Fasan and into the net. I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing.
Falkirk are a very bad side, make no mistake. They're probably the poorest side we've faced this season. Lewis is quite pacy up top and Petravicius showed a lovely touch to set up McKee's equaliser but other than that they left no impression. Out passed and out fought for the majority of the game - unacceptable against the worst side in League 1. They could not get close to Paton, Dickson or McGuigan all game. Pat Brough could well be one of the worst defenders I've seen in a long time. For all the "let's get to January" talk, there are so many faults with this side that it'll take more than one transfer window to sort. Ray McKinnon really has a hard job on his hands.
Stenhousemuir were brilliant. Everyone excelled themselves and with a hitherto unseen fire. It's hard to pick a man of the match but I'd probably give it to Sean Dickson - I don't think I've ever seen him play wide right before but Jordan McGhee didn't get near him once. I'm looking forward to the upcoming fourth-round match with Aberdeen but I do hope we can build on this match and take it into next weekend's game against Arbroath. Picking up a point there would be a massive step in leading us away from the bottom of the table.