Peterhead beaten as Declan McManus hits hat-trick for title chasers Falkirk

Peterhead's Cameron Eadie clears from Conor Sammon (pic: Duncan Brown)
Peterhead's Cameron Eadie clears from Conor Sammon (pic: Duncan Brown)

A hat-trick from Declan McManus gave title chasers Falkirk victory over Peterhead at Balmoor on Saturday.

The Blue Toon were on the back foot early, Charlie Telfer thumping a free-kick into the wall with three minutes gone.

The home side went with a back five to try and nullify a strong looking Falkirk forward line and they were forced to keep their concentration as the visitors broke forward with pace, Mick Dunlop sliding in to deny Connor Sammon a shot on target at the expense of a corner after seven minutes.

But the game plan went out the window in the 10th minute, a shot by Morgan Gomis well blocked by Dunlop but the ball broke into the path of McManus who drilled a low shot into the net from six yards.

The Blue Toon response was a rare break forward that saw Rory McAllister take the ball into the left side of the penalty area before creating space to get a shot off, grabbed low at the second attempt by Robbie Mutch.

It was predictably 2-0 after 24 minutes with another slick move from the visitors, full back Michael Doyle playing the ball in, Aiden Connolly with the lay off for McManus to strike first time for his brace as the visitors looked set for a comfortable afternoon.

However, Peterhead brought themselves right back into it two minutes later, a Mark Durnan own goal from a downward Dunlop header giving them hope.

Five minutes into the second half Durnan should have made amends but headed wide from a corner.

The full time Bairns continued to dominate as they did in the first half but mishit crosses were all too easily cleared.

But disaster struck for the home side after 61 minutes, defender David Ferguson barging over Aiden Connolly for a stonewall penalty which McManus rifled down the middle for his hat-trick after Ferguson had been dismissed for denying a goal scoring opportunity.

It could have been more, Connor Sammon having a shot from a tight angle saved by Greg Fleming soon after.