Falkirk 0 Partick Thistle 0: Home debut for McHugh can’t inspire Bairns

Craig Sibbald on the ball for the Bairns. Picture: Alan Murray
Craig Sibbald on the ball for the Bairns. Picture: Alan Murray
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Peter Houston believes his Falkirk side played like the “Premiership team” for large parts of Saturday’s friendly against Partick Thistle.

The Bairns held their top tier opponents to a goalless draw in a match barely fitting of the pre-season friendly tag.

Scott Shepherd tussles for the ball in the friendly game against Partick. Picture: Alan Murray

Scott Shepherd tussles for the ball in the friendly game against Partick. Picture: Alan Murray

Houston was pleased with his side’s efforts. “I thought we popped the ball about well first half. For a neutral (watching the game) we looked like the Premiership team.

“Credit to our players because we stepped it up from Tuesday night. I thought we were the better team for the first 60 minutes.”

Houston made five changes from the side that faced Hamilton in midweek with the most notable inclusion Bob McHugh, with the former Motherwell man making his first appearance since signing on Tuesday.

He partnered John Baird up front for the hosts and the pair looked lively without quite kicking into gear.

We lost a top player in Rory Loy but what the supporters have got to remember is we have to work in our budget. We can’t go out and sign a player for huge money

Peter Houston

The Falkirk boss was encouraged by the performance of his new look frontline. “I thought they looked good considering they’ve had very little time together,” he said. “I think there’s goals in them.”

“We lost a top player in Rory Loy but what the supporters have got to remember is we have to work in our budget. We can’t go out and sign a player for huge money.”

The signing of defender Paul Watson was announced prior to Saturday’s game and the player was unveiled to the home support during half-time.

Houston admitted he was a big fan of the former Raith Rovers man. “He’s a player who was superb against us last season. I’m delighted to get him on board. He could play week in week out for Falkirk.”

The home side were on top for the majority of a largely uneventful first half but never looked capable of pressing home their territorial advantage.

The Bairns started the game on the front foot, moving the ball quickly and with purpose, something that had not been evident against Hamilton. John Baird was a constant menace throughout, running the channels and failing to give a moment’s peace to the Thistle backline.

The visitors came closest in a slightly more enjoyable second half, almost snatching victory at the death. The impressive Declan McDaid raced to the byline and picked out Steven Lawless with a terrific cutback. Lawless looked certain to score but his low drive was blocked well on the line by former Thistle man Aaron Muirhead. It was the closest the game got to a goal.

Referee Brian Colvin blew his whistle two minutes early amid very few complaints. The majority of those in attendance had already left the stadium.

Falkirk’s attention now turns to Saturday and the first competitive game of the season, a Petrofac Training Cup tie against East Fife. The Fifers find themselves in the lowest tier of Scottish football but Houston still expects a tough tie against his former player Gary Naysmith.

“We won’t treat it as anything other than a tough game because I know Gary is a very well organised manager. East Fife have nothing to lose as we will be seen as favourites. We have to be professional and work hard.”

Following the East Fife game, Falkirk face a Friday night cup showdown with East Stirling at Broadwood. The Bairns then begin their league season with a trip to Cappielow to face Morton.