Falkirk were defeated 1-0 by Connah’s Quay at The Falkirk Stadium on Saturday but, for those struggling for context, there was one particularly telling result late on Saturday evening.
The Bairns fell to a 1-0 defeat to the side second in the Welsh top flight, with a header just inside the second period enough for the visitors to progress to the third round of the Irn-Bru Cup.
Just a few hours later, in Oswestry, League Two side Queen’s Park defeated the Welsh league leaders TNS on penalties to progress to the third round.
Obviously this is no certain proof of the level of opposition as shocks do happen in football - Queen’s Park started the match as 16/1 outsiders. But it’s good context.
Connah’s Quay were dumped out of the Irn-Bru Cup last season by a 119th minute Dimitris Froxlylias free-kick for Dumbarton and would have expected to go out of the competition at the same stage this time round.
A ‘Nomads’ official had said prior to kick-off that he believed the northern Welsh side are Conference North (England’s sixth tier) quality.
The flip of that is, Ray McKinnon is still getting to know his squad and his experimental line-up on Saturday proved just that, as he alluded to himself post-match.
Patrick Brough was tried out at centre-half, and looked comfortable, whilst Deimantas Petravicius played in behind Marcus Haber up the top end of the park.
Joe McKee and Tommy Robson, much to the delight of many Bairns supporters, returned to the team. There are positives to take as McKinnon will have learned plenty about the strengths and weaknesses of his players.
In terms of match performance, there wasn’t a great deal of change from the tail end of Hartley’s reign - and not many Bairns fans will have expected too much after a week either.
Falkirk seriously struggled to create chances in the first half, with Deimantas Petravicius’ lob the best opening for the hosts. The Lithuanian looked decent playing behind Haber.
Connah’s Quay had the better openings in the first period. Michael Wilde dropped his header onto the roof of the net from close range, passing up a huge opportunity.
He didn’t miss, though, when left alone to nod home from ten yards thirty seconds into the second half.
Falkirk scrapped and showed some fight after going behind as Connah’s Quay assistant manager Neil Gibson riled Falkirk players and staff alike.
But, as has been the case so often this season, the Bairns struggled to create clear-cut openings.
Things do not get any easier for the Bairns as focus turns to the Championship and a trip to Ayr United on Saturday.