Sports Editor David Oliver gives his Monday Verdict on the Bairns’ draw with the Jags.
Just when they thought he was out, they pulled him back in. That’s the story of his season. The story of Falkirk’s season too.
Joe McKee began the season not even a periphery figure in the Falkirk squad.
Left out of the team photo, left out of training, unwanted under the previous regime.
An exit looked likely. He almost followed Alex Harris out.
But now he’s been pulled back in, and played an important role in securing Falkirk’s first consecutive league points this season.
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Just when they thought Falkirk were out, he pulled them back in. To the game, and possibly to the league. He did it last season, and he may well have done it again,
Saturday’s draw with Partick Thistle means Falkirk go three weeks without a league defeat, minimum. McKee’s goal means Thistle are kept in touching distance with a point that was better for the out-of-form Jags than the home side.
But for McKee it is a remarkable turn around in fortunes.
Forced out by suspension last year in the Dean Shiels spat, his place looked in jeopardy but he forced himself back into Paul Hartley’s plans and helped keep the Bairns up with a goal at St Mirren that salvaged SPFL Championship survival.
Then cast aside over the summer until Ray McKinnon recalled him and McKee forced his way into the plans.
Sure he is not the first name on the team-sheet, but Saturday was a day for the rest to step up with Zak Rudden called up to international duty. Needlessly as it turned out, and Falkirk’s attack was blunted.
Without the top scorer and Lithuanian cap Deimantas Petravicius Ray McKinnon was forced to try different options, and test his squad.
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He found that McKee is a man with a tendency for important goals.
When Craig Slater fired Thistle ahead, it was McKee’s chasing that carved open the opportunity to level. Just like he did against McKinnon at Tannadice 18 months ago and just like he did at the end of last season.
He’s found his squad short, but also a structure and formation that is sound and in it, his Falkirk side are not as defensively fragile when set-up in the 5-3-2 as they were when he took over.
PLAYER PROFILE: Joe McKee
He’s found they’re not quite a lost cause yet and their battling over a Thistle side that showed siginficant football ability once they stopped the bully-boy first half tactics of the first half, gives hope for the future.
He’s finding out more and pulling it altogether.
Just when they thought Falkirk were out, he’s pulled them back in. McKinnon that is. And McKee too.