By Ben McNicol

Falkirk closed the gap at the top of the League One table with a well-deserved three points against leaders Cove Rangers, not the happy return former manager Paul Hartley would’ve been looking for.

Callumn Morrison’s 48th minute strike was the difference, topping off what has been an excellent week for the 21-year-old, who signed a new deal with the club until the end of 2021/22 campaign before this one.

Dunfermline Athletic v Falkirk - Betfred Cup

Morrison’s strike settled things. (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group via Getty Images)

It was a tight tussle for the first 20 minutes with referee David Dickinson producing yellow cards to Robbie Leitch, Blair Yule and Morgaro Gomis for reckless fouls. Unfortunately, there was very little goalmouth action to report on as both sides remained defensively solid.

Falkirk managed to gain the upper hand though after the half-hour mark and created a number of chances within a 10-minute spell.

On the 36th minute, the ball fell kindly for Blair Alston on the edge of the box and his powerful strike was well saved by Stuart McKenzie, before Connor Sammon went close minutes later when he beat his man down the left, but he could only poke his effort wide of the target.

Falkirk vs. Arbroath - William Hill Scottish Cup 4th Round Replay

Sammon had a chance. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group via Getty Images)

The Bairns had the ball in the net five minutes before the break when Morrison tapped home the rebound from Anton Dowds’ initial effort, but it was ruled out for offside.

However, Morrison made no mistake at the second time of asking as the pair linked up once again to put the home side ahead minutes after half-time. Dowds did extremely well down the right flank and his pinpoint cross was slid into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.

Falkirk came painfully close to doubling their advantage on the 67th minute when Dowds slipped Sammon clean through on goal but his deflected effort went narrowly wide of the post.

Dunfermline Athletic v Falkirk - Betfred Cup

Close for Lee Miller and David McCracken. (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Dowds also came close to grabbing a goal himself which would’ve put the game beyond doubt when his rocket from 25-yards pulled an outstanding save out of McKenzie, who somehow managed to tip it onto the post.

Cove nearly stole a point right at the death when Leighton McIntosh was left unmarked just outside the box and his effort across goal went inches past PJ Morrison’s post. Here are three things we learned.

Falkirk close the gap

The lead at the top of League One has now been cut to just one point following Falkirk’s victory and their unbeaten run for the season continues.

Falkirk v Hearts - William Hill Scottish Cup Fifth Round

Working well. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group via Getty Images)

They have the chance to go top when they travel to Dumbarton on Tuesday night and a win there would set them up perfectly for their huge League Cup clash with Rangers next Sunday.

Morrison marks new contract with goal

It’s been a good week on a personal note for former Hearts youngster Morrison as he put the icing on the cake with the match winner after penning a new deal.

The 21-year-old has arguably been one of the best players in the league this season, scoring six goals in eight games this season in all competitions.

No happy homecoming for Hartley

It must’ve been difficult enough for Hartley to listen to abuse from Falkirk fans outside the stadium, but what would’ve been even harder to take was about how poor his side were.

Cove Rangers v Hibernian - Betfred Cup Match

Poor day for Hartley’s team. (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group via Getty Images)

It was a shadow of their usual performances and Cove created next to nothing all afternoon, not what you’ve expected from a side who’re well-known for their prolific front line.

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