An afternoon that started promisingly turned much like the weather for Caley Thistle.
As the second half action was accompanied with a deluge from the heavens, Caley Jags’ chances were soon washed away with two penalties and an ill-advised red card from Jake Mulraney.
John Robertson’s side had gone to the Falkirk Stadium with reasonable hopes of eradicating the three-point deficit between them and the play-offs. They left with a sense of what might have been had they kept 11 men on the pitch for 90 minutes.
A depleted bench for Caley Jags was made up of three 16-year-olds, with Daniel MacKay, Jack Brown and Cameron Harper afforded more matchday experience. Already part of a burgeoning under-17s side, suspensions to Liam Polworth and Iain Vigurs as well as injuries to Carl Tremarco and Nathan Austin handed them a welcome opportunity.
Filling the creative void caused by Vigurs and Polworth’s absence was arguably Robertson’s biggest dilemma.
Vigurs was much maligned for the majority of the relegation campaign but Inverness have undoubtedly looked a better side in the Championship with his presence.
Those bans could have forced a reshuffle but Robertson elected to make a straight swap, drafting Seedorf into the middle in the role his uncle, Clarence, made famous.
The retooled midfield trio may not have inspired many visiting supporters but they were tidy, efficient and gave Caley Thistle a platform to build on. Trafford swept up in front of the back four and allowed Seedorf and Chalmers – defenders by trade – the licence to drift forward. It was Chalmers who had the first shot of the game, forcing a strong parry from Robbie Thomson.
Caley Thistle coasted the last encounter between the two sides, winning 4-1 three weeks ago and were three up inside half an hour. There was a less chaotic opening to this encounter with Inverness controlling possession and being patient in trying to fashion opportunities.
Seedorf’s energy was evident, with his exuberance seeing him win several 50-50s on the slide then drive forward into threatening positions. In his early appearances at full back those tendencies could be exploited by wide players as limited cover existed behind him. But as part of a trio, Seedorf is able to take one or two calculated risks and it is possible Robertson may have found another square peg that fits well into a round hole.
Falkirk were re- stricted to early crosses that were comfortable for Gary Warren and Coll Donaldson to deal with. Their first instance of composed build-up play saw Craig Sibbald test Mark Ridgers with a powerful strike.
As the half grew the Bairns began to hem Inverness into their own half with Sibbald, in particular, a threat.
Losing an attacking outlet was something they could ill-afford but Mulraney’s three minutes of madness altered the game.
After a booking for fouling Louis Longridge and then getting away with clattering the same player a minute later, Robertson would have hoped to get in at half-time with a full complement of players.
However, barely 60 seconds later, Mulraney pushed Tommy Robson over and was promptly dismissed, kicking a stray water bottle as he left the park.
Inverness were unable to see out the opening 15 minutes of the second half as Chalmers dangled a leg at Longridge and he went tumbling, leaving Anderson with a simple decision to point to the spot. Muirhead strode forward and confidently tucked the ball away.
Robertson rejigged to a 4-3-2 which was always going to leave his side vulnerable in wide areas.On-loan Staggie Reghan Tumilty and Robson were becoming more influential and it was from the latter the second goal came. He drove inside from the left and drew a lunge from Seedorf and a second penalty. Muirhead’s finish ended the game as a contest.
MacKay’s late impact, finishing brilliantly when set free by fellow 16-year-old Brown, gives some cause for optimism but a close-range finish from Andrew Nelson made sure of the points for Falkirk.