What Falkirk fans would give for some Arsenal-esque fayre at The Falkirk Stadium, and it may just be what Ray McKinnon is aiming for.
Not the Gunners of Robert Pires, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp. That’s asking too much.
The Gunners of the early 1990s. The ‘Boring Boring Arsenal’ side with a sturdy defence and a lacklustre attack.
That’s what Falkirk should be aiming for right now. Baby steps in the gradual progression which will, hopefully, result in a march up the table.
LEAGUE TABLE: SPFL Championship
There is no doubt that Ray McKinnon’s organisational improvements have made Falkirk a sterner test than they were earlier this season. Ian McCall admitted it after this match.
And having lost much fewer goals since last month’s international break there’s signs that improvement is coming, re-inforced by last week’s draw with Ross County.
But like Arsenal of the early George Graham era there’s little in attack. McKinnon is working on that too and rued his lack of firepower after the game compared with Ayr’s relative wealth with Larence Shankland and the match-winner Craig Moore up top.
And like the Arsenal teams of a quarter of a century ago, it’s ‘boring boring Bairns’.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Matchday Blog - Falkirk v Ayr
But do you know what, that’s an improvement and might just be a price worth paying over the next eight weeks until the manager can spice things up in January.
Containment can be the name of the game from now until 2019.
If the team’s not conceding, it’s not losing either and so accumulating points. Making those baby steps, or Bairn steps towards safety in the SPFL Championship.
Falkirk contained Ayr on Saturday. They shackled Shankland too.
MATCH REPORT: Falkirk 0 Ayr United 1
They were outdone by a speculative drive from the edge of the box, that goalkeeper David Mitchell flapped at low and should have grabbed.
That aside there was so little between the teams it was tedious to watch.
The first half was chess-like. Though both teams set up differently and Ayr had space to work in, Falkirk defended in decent numbers, and to good effect.
Aside from Moore’s blast Mitchell had little to seriously concern or pressure him.
At the other end Falkirk asked questions but rarely found the answer with a shot on target.
IN QUOTES: Ray McKinnon and Ian McCall analysis
Joe McKee’s cross to Zak Rudden was their best opportunity, the striker meeting a brilliant fast-paced cross just behind him and steering the ball in the right direction, but not accurately enough.
If shoring up the defence has been aa priority it has worked well for McKinnon but his side’s lack of threat at the other end will eventually come to cost the Bairns points once the more glaringdeficiencies are fixed.
Until then though, keeping teams out and small but frequent points return as gains is a welcome improvement nonetheless. But it’s a hard to watch.