Falkirk 1-0 Kilmarnock: Match Report
Will Vaulks leaves it late as Falkirk secure narrow advantage over Kilmarnock
Falkirk produced another injury-time winner as Will Vaulks handed them a 1-0 advantage over Kilmarnock.
Vaulks drilled home Craig Sibbald's cutback through a crowd of bodies from 18 yards as Falkirk edged an often nervy first leg of the Ladbrokes Premieship play-off final.
Bob McHugh had struck the winner deep into injury-time in the semi-final against Hibernian on Friday following earlier crucial late goals against Rangers and Hibs during the Ladbrokes Championship season.
Kilmarnock striker Kris Boyd had previously come closest to breaking the deadlock at a packed Falkirk Stadium while John Baird and Tope Obadeyi missed better chances for each side.
Kilmarnock were without top goalscorer Josh Magennis but they started brightly as they set about extending their 23-year stay in the top flight. Falkirk goalkeeper Danny Rogers had to backtrack to palm away Gary Dicker's cross, but his defence cleared after Boyd turned the ball back into the goalmouth.
At the other end, Jamie MacDonald held a Blair Alston shot at the second attempt and the hosts began to get on top, although the first real chance of the game only came in the 30th minute.
McHugh skilfully turned inside Lee Ashcroft and fired a shot which MacDonald again spilled, but John Baird volleyed the rebound over from six yards.
Kilmarnock might have had a penalty late in the half but Obadeyi passed up an invitation to go down after being clipped by Luke Leahy's sliding challenge. The winger stumbled but stayed on his feet and delivered a cross which came to nothing as referee John Beaton played on.
Obadeyi kept causing problems after the break and his run led to a 53rd-minute corner which almost provided the opener. Craig Slater's low delivery somehow found its way to Boyd 16 yards out and he aimed a left-footed shot towards the top corner, but Sibbald headed the ball over the bar on the line.
Boyd soon set up a glorious chance for Obadeyi when he lobbed the ball over the top of the Bairns back four, but the Englishman delayed his shot and fired into the side-netting after a heavy touch took him round the side of Rogers.
Falkirk came back into it but MacDonald had an escape after fumbling Baird's cross and the striker and Sibbald both shot off target from the edge of the box.
Boyd came close once more when Slater's back-post cross gave him a free header but Rogers was fully behind his effort to block.
MacDonald again looked unconvincing as he palmed away Vaulks' bouncing effort before Boyd sliced wide from the edge of the box.
But the Falkirk Stadium drama again came late and Beaton blew for time-up as Killie kicked off following Vaulks' goal.