Aberdeen claimed the last top six spot at Pittodrie tonight, but they made the red army sweat for the win. Chris Maguire was the hero on the night after he grabbed both goals in the narrow 2-1 victory. The young striker reacted quickly in the 21st minute to bullet a header into the net as he latched on to a Diamond flick. The Bairns fought back and levelled four minutes after the break when Soutar fumbled an Arfield cross to allow Finnigan to prod the ball into the net. Maguire popped up again in the 82nd minute to grab the vital winner from a tight angle. The Falkirk players were furious, claiming the ball had been out of play before Aluko's initial shot was blocked but Maguire didn't hang about and pounced to net the loose ball.
Falkirk kicked off and looked to press Aberdeen immediately with Soutar having to make an early clearance. A minute later a cross was whipped across the face of the goal as the Dons struggled to get out of their own half at this stage. Aberdeen ventured into the Falkirk half in the fourth minute but Maguire was unable to latch on to Miller's flick. At the other end Soutar made an easy save before Falkirk won the first corner of the match in the 7th minute. The Dons defence was forced to scramble the ball clear as they looked nervous in these opening stages.
Falkirk almost opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Finnigan met a Ross cross and hit a fierce shot that Soutar did well to block and Miller headed out for a corner. The subsequent cross was headed wide of the target and a minute later Finnigan headed a Barrett cross inches wide of the goal with Soutar struggling to get there. Falkirk continued to dominate and Soutar made another save in the 14th minute. The Dons showed promise three minutes later when Aluko had a shot blocked inside the Falkirk area.
Nicholson fired in a low drive from outside the box, but it was blocked in front of the keeper and the ball was booted out for a throw in. From the resulting throw Aberdeen grabbed the lead against the run of play. For the first time this season a long throw from captain Severin paid dividends as Diamond flicked the ball into the path of Chris Maguire who headed in from close range. The Dons almost surrendered that lead three minutes later as the defence stood like statues appealing an offside decision while Barrett collected a Cregg pass, went one-on-one with Soutar and somehow fired wide when it looked easier to score.
Aberdeen had found some confidence from the goal and an Aluko volley was blocked before the Dons won their first corner in the 28th minute. The resultant set play produced a real stramash in front of the keeper, but the ball was eventually scrambled clear. A Falkirk free kick in the 31st minute was well claimed by Soutar before the Bairns were awarded another soft free kick on the edge of the box but once again it was wasted. At the other end Severin was felled outside the box , but no free kick was forthcoming. Aberdeen should have made it 2-0 in the 36th minute when Foster had an effort blocked by the keeper and Aluko had to go wide to collect before he was crowded out.
Maguire tried a speculative shot from the edge of the box after he turned his marker, but Olejnik made a comfortable save. Foster then tried a shot that was deflected in the 43rd minute while at the other end Soutar was forced into a save from Arfield. Nicholson then made an important challenge on Arfield as the striker looked to pull the trigger. The Dons could feel happy with the one-goal advantage at the break, but you feel a second goal was required to finish the job.
Mackie replaced McNamara at the interval but it was Falkirk that threatened in the opening minute of the second half winning two quick corners. An error by Soutar allowed Falkirk to level in the 49th minute when he fumbled an Arfield cross and allowed Finnigan to prod the ball into the net. To be fair the defence should have had the ball cleared a lot earlier. Aberdeen had a chance to regain the lead two minutes later when Aluko was scythed down on the edge of the box. Nicholson's effort hit the wall however then in the 56th minute Aberdeen had a loud shout for a penalty when Scobbie handled under a challenge from Mackie. Mr McCurry was not interested and waved play on.
A Nicholson free kick on the hour mark was punched for a corner by the keeper, but the set play came to nothing. Aluko had come alive after some rough treatment that consistently went unpunished. Falkirk won a corner in the 62nd minute and took an eternity to take it as time wasting became the order of the day. A Nicholson drive was blocked by Milne in the 65th minute and the ball was scrambled away by Falkirk. The resultant corner was penalised for a push by an Aberdeen player that only Mr. McCurry spotted and the game was now littered with stoppages that aided Falkirk more that the Dons. A Maybury shot was drilled inches wide in the 70th minute and seconds later Finnigan failed to convert despite being a yard offside.
Aberdeen looked to be running out of ideas and Falkirk were enjoying a good spell in the game. A cross from Aluko in the 78th minute tested the keeper but he claimed the ball at the second attempt. At the other end Soutar did well to punch clear and was then caught late as Aberdeen were breaking. Mr. McCurry then pulled the game back to deny them the advantage. A minute later de Visscher replaced Maybury and immediately McCurry awarded another soft free kick as Aberdeen were pressing. Aberdeen won a free kick and Finnigan escaped punishment despite kicking the ball away.
Aberdeen then grabbed a sensational second in the 82nd minute when Aluko worked his way to the bye line and as the Falkirk players appealed that the ball was out he fired in a shot that was initially blocked by the keeper then drilled into the net by Maguire from a tight angle. Three minutes later Duff replaced the goal hero Maguire and Aluko won a corner in the 89th minute as the Dons looked to seal the win with several minutes of stoppage time expected. The referee opted for only three minutes as the sponsors, not surprisingly, named Maguire as the man of the match. Aberdeen then held out comfortably to claim the last top six place.