Hospitality from Houston if it’s a home draw

Peter Houston applauds the fans. All pics by Michael Gillen.
Peter Houston applauds the fans. All pics by Michael Gillen.

Peter Houston has hailed the Falkirk travelling support in Sligo - and hopes to offer a similar hospitality to sides in the third round of the cup whether they be Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish.

The Bairns saw off Sligo Rovers 2-1 on Saturday night and a hardcore band of Bairns made the awkward trip to the west coast of Ireland over land and sea – and air.

And Houston is now hoping for a home tie after the 600-mile round trip — though he’s pleased the fans enjoyed the Irish hospitality.

“The support was brilliant,” he told The Falkirk Herald. “They were singing all game. They have been over for a couple of days by the sounds of them - and in the pub all day!

“But that’s what you expect from the Falkirk fans – they follow the team – and they like the pubs!

Credit to them and I hope it’s a safe journey home.

“We don’t see a lot of the Irish League, but you see Sligo had some good players and they made it difficult for us tonight. They were a physical threat at set-plays with their height.”We look at the ground, the stadium and it’s terrific.

“It’s refreshing for them to come up against Scottish teams. Its been a bit of a journey for us in one morning coming over, but I can handle it. It’s taking the team into Europe and I like it.

“We go away for pre-season, but when it comes to winning a game to progress in the cup - it’ never easy.

“I come to Ireland a lot, I’ve brought the club here two seasons in a row. The reason is it’s not easy.

“I want tough physical games to build us up. It just so happens Sligo have been invited into the cup, it’s early in our season too and they’ve done themselves credit. They’ll feel disappointed to be knocked out, but games against Irish teams are not easy.

“The spirit in the league is brilliant, I love it. They’re dogged.

“But why don’t they come to Falkirk next time, we’ve got the Kelpies and can show them some hospitality.

“If its back over to Ireland so be it, but maybe it’d be better for us to take a home tie, that’s what every other manager would say too!”

The draw is made on Tuesday and there is still the chance Falkirk could face a return across the water to play Crusaders or Linfield in Belfast or head south to The New Saints in Wales if they don’t land a home tie.

There’s another long journey in store this week - by road north though, as Brechin are the opponents on Saturday. The Bairns boss is hoping to use the Sligo experience as a confidence boost to jumpstart the league campaign after an awful start.

“You need to take confidence from it because after the last few weeks where we’ve not played well, defended poorly, its very important to get back to basics and defend properly. That’s what we did.

“Against QOS and Dunfermline we were letting teams in behind us, we’ve worked hard on it.

“There are a lot of performances that were more workmanlike than good at times but we worked well as a team and that was important.

“We can now look forward, take positives from the game, look at a couple of wee things to do better and take it forward to Saturday’s game.”

“We’ve won at Brechin this season but it’s a tough place. We need to take this on and apply it to the league and kickstart our season because after the couple of weeks we’ve had it was important to win the match and get through to the next round.

He also paid tribute to new signings Jordan McGhee and Conrad Balatoni who started at centre defence for the visitors to The Showgrounds.

“Jordan came off near the end because his hamstring was getting tight - but that’s because he hasn’t played a lot.

“So it made sense in taking him off before it pulled. He’s done a lot of training with Hearts but not played, and Conrad is an experienced player and showed it against Sligo.

“I’ve got two centre backs who on their day are very good players but the only reason they were out is they haven’t been doing well recently.

“It was a tough match in tough conditions - the pitch was great though but the wind spoiled things for both teams. We had the better of it in the first half, the second half we had to defend well and that’s something we haven’t done in the past few weeks.

“Sligo threw everything at us but we coped with it and they were a threat at corner kicks and long throw ins but from open play I didn’t think we would be breached.

“They had a shot from the halfway line which had to be tipped over by Robbie [Thomson] that shows what the wind was like.”

The third round draw will be made at 1pm on Tuesday.