Hartley: ‘It’s a long season ahead, a challenge’

Paul Hartley
Paul Hartley

Paul Hartley learned a lot about his players in the 4-2 reverse by Queen of the South.

And the boss has warned it’s going to be a long hard season for Falkirk – not that fans needed any more reminding.

The Bairns stay second bottom of the Championship, but scored two goals in a league match for the first time this season.

Hartley says a lack of concentration cost them early on and it was an uphill struggle for his side from then on.

Summing up the game at full-time he said: “There’s a lot of work to be done here, I was under no illusion about that when I took the job, and we’re at the wrong end of the table for a reason - we haven’t been good enough. We all need to take responsibility and start winning games of football. It’s pretty simple.

“We’ve been OK defending the last four games but this time we looked like we had a lack of concentration and that probably typifies the season we’ve had. We’ve kept four clean sheets before coming here, and we were ok until the slack bit of play.

“I felt we started the game pretty well in the first 15 minutes but we gave the first goal away with a sloppy backpass. Infact the first three goals are poor on our part and though we had two great chances to get into the match and had a late rally it wasn’t good enough.

“Even the fourth goal wasn’t good enough – no-one tackled Dobbie all day long, he’s had free rein. You’ve got to be aggressive against him or at least make it uncomfortable for him. For me he had too much time and space, but I know he’s a good player.”

Once again, Cieran Dunne was praised by Hartley who rewarded his bright debut off the bench last week with a first start. Dunne didn’t disappoint and stood out on a glum day.

“The young kid again was our best attacking option,” said Hartley. “He put a fantastic ball in for the second goal. But he’s only young, he’s 17, learning his trade and he’ll have a spell that’s difficult for him. We’re at the wrong end of the table just now and to put all the responsibility on him is a going to be a big ask but I was really pleased with him again.

“He was positive, bright and you can see the supporters like him. He’s still very raw at this age, but it’s not just about him. Everyone has to take responsibility over where we want to be and we have to climb the league and quickly.

“I learned a lot today, I learned its going to be a hard challenge for us of where we want to take the club but it won’t be as simple as that. We’re Falkirk, we’re one of the favourites but thats not going to be the case. This league is so tough, there’s no easy game and we have a long season ahead. We have a real challenge and a battle.”

But Gary Naysmith conceded: “We have played very well against a team who have picked up in recent weeks. They’ve kept a clean sheet in five of their last six games, and we’ve scored four past them – and it could have been eight.”