Red eyed, downcast, frustarted. Gregor Buchanan put his hands over his face before composing himself to talk to the press following Falkirk’s 1-0 defeat to Clyde.
Going over in the captain’s mind was the last-minute miss he’d sent into the stand on the half-volley from ten yards out. It was among one of the first instances he mentioned when re-living the game with the journalists around him, and no doubt, replayed for the next few hours of his Saturday evening.
The Falkirk-born defender has yet to score for his hometown club since he returned to the team of his childhood in the summer.
He’s come close. Strikers have poached his efforts on the goal-line, even blocked them in the case of Declan McManus at Stranraer trying to add to their own tally.
When it comes, the celebration will be seismic.
On Saturday it was no different as a Buchanan header was bound for the goal, and to give Falkirk the lead, before being slammed home for insurance by Conor Sammon. Only the Irishman’s positioning was ruled offside and the goal disallowed.
A lack of goals is what Buchanan attributes to the Bairns’ third-place in the league, but going over in his mind was not just his own miss, but that of the whole team. They could have gone top with a win over a Clyde side who had already defeated them in a shock 1-0 win at Broadwood in August.
His expression told the story of a player who knows what it means for Falkirk, the town, team and support when they are underperforming, and losing to teams like Clyde, twice, in a season.
“Teams are going to raise their game against us. Of course they will,” he said. “When you’re a player for Falkirk you’ve got to live up to that and we’re maybe not at the moment.
“You look at the table and the only positive we can take is that Raith and East Fife haven’t got away from us. That’s the only thing we can take, because they had a chance to get four points away from us and have us chasing a bit but we are still only one win away from them and third now with a chance to go top next week. But at the end of the day there are no excuses from the players we’ve got to be scoring goals and taking chances.
“That’s maybe four or five games we’ve failed to score in the league and that’s a very frustrating factor for us because if you don’t score goals you don’t win games.”
The dressing room leader has been one of the better performers of a Bairns team expected to lead the league, but who have found it more difficult in carving out results, and as he says, finding the net.
The defence was, and is, the best in British domestic football but still the Bairns are third, a point off the Fife sides at the top, but three from seventh.
Forfar is next for Falkirk. A win could take them top, depending on other results, not winning could have ramifications in their league placings and the pressure on them from an already expectant fanbase.
“It’s the players who have to take the responsibility because there’s 11 that were out are good enough to win the game,” Buchanan added.
“There are players on the bench good enough to make an impact and come into the team, and do better when they’re on the pitch. It’s only the players that can be blamed.
“The boys that won last week [against Paterhead in a 4-0 win] got the chance to go back out because we performed so well. So it’s up to the 11 on the park to keep the jersey and I think every one of us has given the manager a decision now because we’ve not won the game.
“Consistency is key and too many weeks we’ve not scored and not won games.
“Every week we feel good going out there. We have the best facilities in the league, better than most Championship teams and we are ready every week, there’s no excuses on that front and we’re treated brilliantly all week.
“The training is good, and we were lively going into the game but I just feel we lacked something [against Clyde] and it’s poor.
“In saying that I thought we had enough chances to score goals today. Including myself with a great chance at the end.”
He’ll be replaying it in his mind for a while more to come too, and re-living another disappointing defeat just like the fans, until they all have the chance to right the wrongs against Forfar at Station Park on Saturday.