A glorious day at the Falkirk Stadium saw the Bairns and Hamilton Accies meet in the Premier Sports Cup that saw Accies look set for defeat before a red card late on turned the game on its head.

The Bairns looked to make it two winds from two under new boss Paul Sheerin after thrashing Albion Rovers in midweek.

Accies boss Brian Rice is no stranger to the Bairns or the Falkirk Stadium, having played for the club in the 90s then returning to work as assistant to both Ian McCall and Yogi Hughes.

The visitors should have been up within the opening five minutes when David Moyo broke beyond the Falkirk defence but the striker’s effort was poor with Robbie Mutch saving comfortably.

Falkirk almost grabbed an early opener of their own when a cross from the right was misjudged by Joe Hilton and flashed just past the back post.

Falkirk v Rangers - Betfred Cup

(Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

The Bairns were denied what looked like a stonewall penalty ten minutes in when Jamie Hamilton appeared to handle in the area but referee Steven McLean saw nothing in it and allowed play to continue.

A frantic opening spell finally settled down, with both sides continuing to try and get forward but struggling to really take control of the game and make their chances count.

After the early flurry of chances, there was an intriguing battle in the middle of the park to dictate the tempo of the game with Hamilton looking the more likely to break the deadlock while not exactly covering themselves in glory defensively.

That saw the sides go in level a the break and it was clear that Accies boss Brian Rice wasn’t too pleased as his side made their way off.

Just a minute after the restart, the hosts took the lead, Aidan Nesbitt snatching a weak passback from Shaun Want before firing low beyond Hilton and into the bottom corner.

The Bairns continued to press forward after the restart, Charlie Telfer firing just wide five minutes after taking the lead with Hamilton looking shellshocked.

After falling behind, Hamilton would have been expected to offer more to try get themselves back into the game but it took a considerable time for them to string more than a couple of short passes together.

A fairly dull second half burst into life when Gary Miller gave away a ridiculous penalty, picking up a red card in the process, Ronan Hughes stepping up to fire home.

With just minutes left on the clock, Hamilton turned things around, Jamie Hamilton taking advantage of a melee in the area to knock the ball home and give accies the lead for the first time in the game.

Accies were able to close the game out but it was a tough afternoon and Brian Rice probably owes some thanks to referee Steven McLean.

Here are three things we learned as the Bairns and Accies clashed in the sun:

Falkirk look a much-improved side compared to last season

Falkirk’s collapse from title favourites to playoff also-rans last season was remarkable but under Paul Sheerin’s management, the Bairns look a much slicker outfit than the one that ended 2020/21.

Callumn Morrison and Charlie Telfer might not be new faces at the Falkirk Stadium but both look to have a new lease of life at Westfield.

With the likes of Aidan Nesbitt and Steven Hetherington in support, the Bairns should be in a much better position

As well as looking better going forward, Sheerin’s side look more robust defensively and far less prone to buckling under some pressure.

Despite eventually falling to a 2-1 defeat, the red card completely changed things for Sheerin’s side.

Hamilton desperately need a centre-forward who can score regularly

While both sides had plenty of chances, Accies were particularly wasteful in front of goal.

David Moyo would do some great work to win balls before fluffing his lines when closing in on goal.

If Hamilton are to return to the Premiership at the first attempt, they simply can’t afford that to be a regular thing this season.

Andy Ryan could prove to be that goalscorer for Rice’s side but he needs to be given the chance to impress.

Lots to do for Chipper if promotion is to be a reality for Hamilton

Despite playing well for the opening 45, after going 1-0 down, Hamilton looked completely bereft of any ideas.

Quick passing was replaced with aimless punts and Brian Rice has lots to do if his side are to go back up to the Premiership.

A penalty earned Hamilton a way back into before Jamie Hamilton scored the late winner the but there is lots of work for Accies this season despite eventually coming out on top.

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