St Mirren’s Championship campaign got off to a flying start with a 3-1 win over Falkirk on Saturday.

The omens weren’t good for the Buds as the Bairns arrived at the Paisley 2021 Stadium unbeaten against the Saints in 11 games, the Buddies last win over Falkirk came in 2009 and their last opening day league win was in 2006.

The form book looked like it would be stuck to when Nathan Austin headed the away side in front inside two minutes. But St Mirren responded in fine style and Stelios produced a terrific finish to level just after the half hour.

Cammy Smith struck early in the second half before Gavin Reilly wrapped up the points with a well taken goal in the 68th minute. Falkirk’s Aaron Muirhead was sent off for aiming a flailing arm at Stelios.

St Mirren got off to the worst possible start as former Buddie Rory Loy took advantage of some slack Saints defending and with space and time on the left, he curled a shot towards the top corner which was only parried by Craig Samson and Austin was on hand to head in the rebound.

Falkirk had their tails up and Loy was once again plotting the downfall of his former teammates after 15 minutes. His perfectly weighted reverse pass gave Austin another chance as he took a touch and fired at goal from the edge of the area, this time Samson was equal to it and pushed the ball away from danger.

Saints came close to a leveller when Lewis Morgan’s cross was cushioned down well by John Sutton for Smith, but the midfielder couldn’t keep his shot down.

Samson was once again forced into action when a quick Falkirk break ended with Joe McKee playing the ever dangerous Austin through on goal, but the Saints goalkeeper was out quickly to block the striker’s dinked effort.

The game was turning into an entertaining spectacle and the atmosphere turned up several notches as Saints got level. Reilly did well to spot Stelios free on the left wing after a throw in high up the pitch. With space and time, the full back drilled the ball into the far corner.

Tensions began to rise in the dugout on the stroke of half-time as St Mirren assistant manager James Fowler and Falkirk boss Peter Houston became involved in a heated debate, things escalated when Bairns goalkeeper coach Derek Jackson ran from the bench and appeared to push Fowler. Staff from both sides intervened to try and calm the situation before referee Don Robertson sent both Fowler and Jackson to the stand.

Just as Falkirk struck an early blow in the first half, Saints were quick out the blocks in the second. A cross from the right from Reilly was poorly dealt with by Falkirk goalkeeper Robbie Thomson and the ball fell at he feet of Smith who finished from close range.

Saints’ hearts were in mouths on the hour mark when Austin outpaced and outmuscled MacKenzie after a ball over the top, the striker did well to get clear of the defender’s attentions but Samson was out quickly to block his shot.

But the home side pressed home their advantage and notched the third with 68 minutes gone. Smith’s ball over the top was controlled by Reilly, he squared up the defender before he dropped his shoulder and fired the ball into the corner.

It was a richly deserved goal for Reilly whose work rate and link up play had been key in Saints’ recovery.

Falkirk’s cause was not helped when Muirhead wildly threw an arm at Stelios when the pair challenged for a header. He was ordered off with no complaints.

St Mirren: Samson, Irvine, MacKenzie, Baird, Stelios, Smith (O’Keefe, 91), McShane, McGinn, Morgan, Reilly (Stewart, 83), Sutton (Kirkpatrick, 88).

Subs not used: Stewart, Buchanan, Whyte, Eckersley.

Attendance: 4, 639