McKee on target at vital times for Bairns

Joe McKee scored the leveller with seven minutes left. Picture Michael Gillen.
Joe McKee scored the leveller with seven minutes left. Picture Michael Gillen.

For a player who has been a peripheral figure at Falkirk this season, Joe McKee’s goalscoring stacks up well.

A year ago he was firing in an equaliser at Tannadice in the SPFL Premiership play-offs, then in July he was on target as the Bairns recorded a flawless Betfred Cup group campaign, then McKee was the man to give the Bairns their first league win of the season under Alex Smith at Cappielow in September.

Joe McKee scored at Tannadice a year ago. Picture Michael Gillen.

Joe McKee scored at Tannadice a year ago. Picture Michael Gillen.

On Tuesday night he was the man tapping in to all but secure Falkirk’s survival in the SPFL Championship – a feat confirmed seven minutes later by Craig Sibbald’s late volley.

But the midfielder was in no mood for smiling after his first 90 minutes since February and third since October.

“Relieved and a bit tired is the feeling at the moment,” he told The Falkirk Herald. “It’s been a while since I last played 90 minutes so I’m pleased with three points.

“It’s relief more than anything. You don’t want to celebrate things like that but its been a hard season so we felt again [on Tuesday] that the penalty was awarded and ‘here we go again’ and things would go against us but the boys rallied and we managed to get the win.

He handed Falkirk their first three points of the season with another free kick at old club Morton.

He handed Falkirk their first three points of the season with another free kick at old club Morton.

“It’s been difficult and we tried to get as many poitns as we could and thankfully we dont have to go on Saturday worried about it and mathematically we’re safe.”

LEAGUE TABLE: SPFL Championship

McKee has six goals to his name in 29 games for Falkirk this term, he could have had two on Tuesday but appeared to swipe at fresh air midway through the second half with the Bairns needing an equaliser to ease their nerves.

However, McKee’s explanation spares his blushes.

Joe McKee converted after Kevin O'Hara's header hit the bar. Picture Michael Gillen.

Joe McKee converted after Kevin O'Hara's header hit the bar. Picture Michael Gillen.

“I had one chance which was just a yard behind me with an empty net so I was happy with that one that went in,” he explained.

“I just tried to hit the six-yard box and as soon as I got in there it was flashed across and it was a yard behind me and I couldn’t get there.

“I definitely couldn’t have missed the other one – I think I put it in with two feet.

“I’ve got six or seven goals in the past year and I’ve not actually played as many games as I’d have liked to for a number of reasons.

Joe McKee. Picture Michael Gillen

Joe McKee. Picture Michael Gillen

“It’s been a hectic season from both a team point of view and personally.

“At the start of the season I had visions of it going very differently. It’s been very difficult, for myself personally, and that’s the first 90 I’ve had in a while so just happy to get that in the legs and to get safe.”

With Paul Hartley expected to ring the changes in the summer and put his own stamp on the Falkirk team McKee will sit down and discuss his future with the Bairns boss, like all his team-mates.

“I’ve got another year on my contract and will sit down with the manager at the end of the season and see what the plan is.

“This year I’ve tried to contribute as much as I can, but it’s been a difficult season for a number of reasons. I’ve tried to stay as fit as I can and look after myself. And anytime I’ve needed to play or starting I’ve tried to give my best for the team.

We’ll sit down at the end of the season and go from there and see what happens.”

Last season was full of injuries for the midfielder, this term has been a mixed bag. Picture Michael Gillen.

Last season was full of injuries for the midfielder, this term has been a mixed bag. Picture Michael Gillen.

Whatever does transpire next season, the Bairns have done enough, just, to preserve their league status.

McKee added: “I’m thankful we’re safe and thanks to the fans who supported us in Paisley.

“I know at the beginning of the season there were a lot more in that stand behind the goals, but thanks to the ones who have stuck with us. We’re relieved, and happy to get the win that secures the team’s position in the league.”

Joe McKee was suspended by the SFA for gross misconduct earlier this season

Joe McKee was suspended by the SFA for gross misconduct earlier this season