Defence is key in Leigh crunch

Kevin McAllister is backing Falkirk to beat Hibs on Saturday.
Kevin McAllister is backing Falkirk to beat Hibs on Saturday.

Defence holds the key to a Falkirk victory on Saturday, says Bairns legend Kevin McAllister.

The flying winger has played for both sides, but only has eyes for his home town club for the Hampden showpiece which pits the most prolific Scottish striker in the SPL (left) against the top scorer in the Scottish First Division (pictured right).

McAllister got his hands on the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday (Wednesday) after missing out in 1997, and believes the Bairns have what it takes to earn another final opportunity if they can take care of Hibs hit-man Leigh Griffiths.

“The key to the game is the defence. If Falkirk can take care of Leigh Griffiths, they take Hibs’ threat away. But mark Lyle Taylor out of the game - as some teams have this season - I still think Falkirk have goals from other areas of the pitch, if they play well.

“If they’re brave on the ball and take responsibility and stand up to the physical presence they can win.

“They’ve a goal scorer and replaced big Farid which could have been a problem, but Lyle Taylor has sorted that out.

“Other players can chip in with goals too, but Hibs are reliant on Griffiths.

“Blair Alston has goals in him, Higgins has scored recently, so hopefully some of the midfielders can chip in too because Taylor has a job on his hands against the big centre-halves.”

Form favours Falkirk who go into the game on the back of an impressive run of four straight league victories under Alex Smith, but Saturday’s lunchtime match will be Gary Holt’s first game in charge of his team. Hibs, by contrast, have struggled of late with three wins in their last ten matches, including a quarter-final win over Kilmarnock.

“When the draw was made you’d have fancied Hibs, but that’s changed recently,” added McAllister.

“Hibs have dropped into bottom six and haven’t had many decent results, but Falkirk have picked up, so there’s a real chance. I’ve seen the team a lot in the past few months, and Hibs a few times too, but I’ll be in the Falkirk end looking for a win.

A semi-final victory would lead the Bairns into the final 100 years since their maiden victory in the competition, and Crunchie - the Bairns’ player of the millennium - says anything is possible.

Sometimes these things happen if you believe in these things. I’m not sure I believe in it but I believe in the team. Anything can happen in one off occasions. If they go there with belief they can win, then they can.