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Hiberian 0 Falkirk 1: Stubbs shocked as chances are spurned again

It appears the more things change at Hibernian, the more they stay the same.

A reworked boardroom structure, a new head coach and a revitalised squad which is playing with a genuine sense of purpose under Alan Stubbs.

Yet, as so often has been the case at Easter Road in recent seasons, the home side left the field to the sound of jeers having suffered defeat in front of their paying - and, by full-time, baying - public. The difference between the sides was an act of clinical finishing from Falkirk striker Rory Loy, allied with the home side's profligacy which undermined an otherwise impressive display. Farid El Alagui, so successful in his one season with Falkirk, was the prime offender.

Loy's goal which settled matters was sublime in both its effectiveness and inventiveness, slotting a sumptuous back-heel through the legs of Mark Oxley.

Perhaps the most unpalatable sense of deja vu for the home fans, however, will have come from the performance of Falkirk goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald.

The 28-year-old, so often at the top of his game for Hearts when Edinburgh derby day rolled around, was fantastic at Easter Road, proving an impenetrable barrier on those occasions that a Hibs striker did hit the target.

"I spoke to Billy [Brown] recently, who worked with Jamie at Hearts, and he told me: 'You've got the best goalkeeper in the league,'" beamed Falkirk manager Peter Houston. "I knew he was right. When he was released by Hearts I was on to him like a shot and it took a wee while to get him, but I'm delighted to have him at Falkirk. And I thought Rory Loy's performance was sensational for a lone striker, holding the ball up, feeding his teammates and intelligent running."

Despite the heroics of Messrs Loy and MacDonald, Hibs will rightly rue their own wastefulness. Stubbs cited "18 chances" in his post-match address, and while all of those opportunities were not gilt-edged, El Alagui struck the bar in the first-half and saw another low shot ripple the side-netting.

MacDonald stood firm to make point blank saves from the French-Moroccan and his strike-partner Paul Heffernan.

Then Heffernan missed arguably the best opportunity of the lot, skewing a header wide from eight yards and by the time MacDonald made a block to deny El Alagui in the closing stages, it was evident that it would not be his, or Hibs', day.

"I think we created 18 chances in the game and to come off the pitch not scoring one...there is disbelief," said Stubbs, cutting an almost shell-shocked figure. "We've got to be more ruthless in front of goal. We put ourselves in good positions but didn't take the chances."

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Football

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