Scorers: Falkirk - McManus (9)

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ONLY the woodwork denied Stranraer a result on their first visit to Falkirk Stadium.

After a stuffy first half, Stevie Farrell's new-look side dug out a spirited second half performance which, despite the result, provided plenty of positives for the season ahead.

Carlo Pignatiello, Jordan Allan and Lee Hamilton were handed their first starts, as the returning Mark Stewart, Ryan Thomson and Scott Robertson went straight into the starting lineup for the Betfred Cup group stage tie.

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Stewart operated as the lone striker as Farrell packed the defence and midfield, but the Blues would concede the opening goal with less than ten minutes on the clock.

Declan McManus' double for Greenock Morton sank Stranraer's title bid four years ago, and he returned to haunt the Wigtownshire side after signing for Falkirk earlier in the day.

The striker capitalised on a loose ball in the Blues defence to scuff a shot past Max Currie and put his new side in front.

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Falkirk had the greater share of possession but were largely restricted to half chances in the opening 45 minutes.

Currie twice denied Aidan Connolly, but Stranraer would create the best opportunity of the half as Thomson latched onto a well-timed through ball.

The midfielder tested home keeper Robbie Mutch but saw his shot well saved.

That chance seemed to give the Blues confidence in the second half.

Adam Cummins found himself in a good position as he latched onto Jamie Hamill's knock down from the corner only to see his shot blocked.

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Stranraer almost found the equaliser in bizarre circumstances, as Mutch was beaten by a Falkirk defensive header which rolled inches wide of their goal.

As the Blues grew into the game, the hosts responded with the introduction of former Republic of Ireland international Conor Sammon.

But the visitors' defence stood firm, and Currie produced a string of top-drawer saves to deny Connolly, Sammon, Tidser and Doyle in the final half hour.

With time ticking away, two big chances saw Stranraer come within a whisker of snatching a result.

Substitute David Dangana slid a well-timed pass through for Thomson, but his shot from an angle was turned past the post.

Then, in the final minute, Hamill and Dangana both rose to meet Allan's corner but the ball bounced agonisingly off the top of the crossbar.

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Stranraer will now look for a positive result at Stair Park on Saturday against newly-relegated Lowland League side Berwick Rangers.

Stranraer: Currie, Cummins, Hamilton, Hamill, Robertson, Thomson, McManus, D Smith (Elliott 64), Allan, Pignatiello (Hilton 75), Stewart (Dangana 67).
Not used: I Smith, Burgess.

Falkirk: Mutch, Doyle, Durnan, Buchanan, Dixon, Connolly (MacLean 67, McShane 82), Tidser, Gomis, Telfer, Johnstone (Sammon 60), McManus.
Not used: Bell, Toshney.

Referee: Chris Fordyce
Attendance: 1,838
HT: 1-0

Photos: Stranraer FC

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