Holt praises young Falkirk team following Hampden heartbreak

Gary Holt applauds the Falkirk supporters at Hampden Park following his side's 4-3 loss to Hibernian in the Scottish Cup semi-final.
Gary Holt applauds the Falkirk supporters at Hampden Park following his side's 4-3 loss to Hibernian in the Scottish Cup semi-final.
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Gary Holt’s first game in charge as Falkirk manager might have ended in disappointment, but the new boss said he could not have asked for anymore from his players on Saturday.

The Bairns raced into a 3-0 lead against Hibernian in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final in an extraordinary first half display.

Goals from Craig Sibbald, Jay Fulton and Blair Alston had Falkirk fans feeling on top of the world as it looked like their team could chalk up a cricket score against their SPL opponents.

But the Edinburgh side, who had looked badly disorganised in the games’ opening spell, came roaring to life after the interval and somehow found the energy needed to level the match at 3-3 with strikes from Alex Harris, Leigh Griffiths and Eoin Doyle.

A wonder strike from Griffiths in extra time settled the game in Hibs’ favour, but not before Falkirk had more chances to win the game themselves.

“It was a rollercoaster of emotions,” said Holt after the game had finished 4-3. “It just wasn’t to be, we couldn’t get over the line as they say.

“I tried to get that over to the boys at half-time, that Hibs were going to come out with all guns blazing and that they would have to stand up to the test.

“Hibs got a good goal, you have to hold your hands up and say the boy (Alex Harris) hit a great strike, but it came at a bad time for us. If it had come maybe ten minutes later, the nerves might have settled a little bit. I think they were taken a little bit by shock by being 3-0 up.”

Despite missing out on a place in next month’s Scottish Cup final against Celtic, there were many positives that Falkirk could take from the game - particularly the exceptional performance of their young players in a high profile game that was broadcast live across the UK.

Holt continued: “I said to them all week that they should go and showcase their talents, and I think everyone has seen that today.

“I asked them to put their bodies on the line and give me their all, and they did that and then some. I’m a proud man.

“I think (by the end of 90 minutes) both teams were out on their feet, and it took another wonder strike to beat us, but that’s football.

“It’s not about being losers. Someone doesn’t win on the day, but I don’t see us as losers. There were a lot of positives we can take from today.

“The players are hurting at the moment. But it’s a good experience for them to get to these occasions. You learn from your defeats.”