Scott Shepherd is getting used to his role as Falkirk’s impact sub.
When they haven’t, they’ve struggled. Think Cowdenbeath, Hearts and now, Queen of the South.
That’s why Peter Houston is emphasising the importance of scoring first to his players. It would have made a huge difference on Saturday.
Falkirk Library would have challenged the Stadium for noise levels on Saturday afternoon, what the Bairns fans really needed was something to shout about.
They only perked up once Craig Sibbald’s curling free-kick had sliced off the boot of Queen’s skipper Chris Higgins boot and into Zander Clark’s net.
Suddenly the fans were on their feet. And, not coincidentally, the players perked up too and picked up the scent of a second.
It didn’t come, but for the final ten minutes they found the impetus that had been lacking most of the game.
There had been a resignation once Gavin Reilly thumped the visitors ahead from close range. Falkirk had been restricted to playing outside the penalty box and their endeavours within it were being foiled persistently.
“I always say the first goal is vital and we need to get it to open teams up a bit and there is loads to work on in our final third play. We have to polish up,” said Peter Houston, the Falkirk manager.
“I’ve emphasised how important that is. There are expectations at Falkirk of being up there challenging and two weeks in a row we’ve given ourselves a mountain to climb by conceding.
“They scoredwhen we had our best spell in the match. I give the players credit for working hard to get into the game. We could’ve won it as well.
“Second half performance again was better than the first when I think Queen’s packing their midfield hit us on the counter-attack and I think we will have to get used to that. Dumbarton got a 0-0 against Hearts. Hibs needed a late winner against Cowdenbeath. We can expect teams to come here, pack up and hit us on the counter attack.”
That’s pretty much what Queen of the South did. Jamie MacDonald had little to do in the first half but neither did Zander Clark at the other end, despite Falkirk keeping much of the possession.
David Smith was direct whenever he found the ball on the right-wing and Owain Tudur Jones played some clever passes in behind the visitors’ defence. But whenever the Bairns got there they were swarmed by a united side battling together without their leader, Jim McIntyre, who had departed for Ross County last week.
The Bairns had lined up 4-4-2 and looked sturdy with Botti Biabi and an off-colour Rory Loy up front, steeled by Jones and Tom Taiwo in the midfield. Craig Sibbald and David Smith on the flanks cut in and looked dangerous, but the Doonhamers restricted Falkirk’s forays to 30 yards from goal.
It was a mundane opening and the second half - though an impriovement was much the same.
The Bairns could have conceded when MacDonald’s poor kick fell to Derek Lyle 40 yards out and a strike back at the empty net was narrowly wide.
At the opposite end Rory Loy flashed a shot across goal that Blair Alston was inches from reaching.
Then the goals came.
Danny Carmichael had a shot palmed out by the Bairns’ goalie and after the corner was cleared and ball returned Gavin Reilly struck high into the net.
Falkirk responded through a fortunate deflection when a whipped ball from Sibbald clipped Higgins - though it could have been Vaulks or Alston had he not - and nestled in the net. Falkirk surged forward but the draw was probably fair on both sides on a down-beat afternoon.