Fine-tuning at Falkirk in bid to break losing sequence
The Bairns have an away match at Montrose on Saturday in cinch League One and are trying to find the formula to recapture the kind of results they were enjoying at the start of the campaign.
Seeking the confidence and directness to end a poor run, while preventing too much nervousness creeping in, is a tough balance. But head coach Paul Sheerin says, as a group of players, they are working positively towards it.
Falkirk knew they had to get back to winning ways as soon as possible, or at least halt the bad succession of results, but they obviously wanted all three points from the visit to Links Park.
"As per usual, we are working on ways of trying to fine-tune the areas that are giving us issues,” he said. “Obviously, it's not a great balance when you are conceding goals and not scoring goals. You're always going to suffer and, at the minute, we are suffering.
"I thought last week, (the 2-1 defeat at home to Dumbarton) performance levels were better against a team that came to frustrate us and sit in. We dominated the ball without working the goalkeeper too much but still had opportunities to score. From that aspect, I thought, in comparison to Alloa, we were looking a bit more like the team we had in the earlier part start of the season, so there is stuff to build on that.
"But, obviously, then you look at the goals against and the issues we have with that, getting countered on, we will need to rectify that as quickly as we can, so have worked on that. Then, in the final third, how we can become better and work goalkeepers more. So, more so again, we have done all we can to right that wrong as well.
"But that only tells on a Saturday come 3 o’clock how much you are going to benefit from it.”
A succession of defeats can become more troublesome the longer they go on but Sheerin believes his players and the staff have the resolve to find the right solution and get past it.
“It would be remiss of me to say it doesn’t affect you – if you don’t start a game well, there is that initial fear that it's almost like 'here we go again',” he said.
“It’s definitely a habit we don’t want to get into but, as a group of players, we are relatively upbeat.
"But I know from having played in the game long enough that it's always difficult to break that habit and, if games tend to wear on, you get a bit more anxious than you would when you're on a good run of results, which is human nature.
“However, as a staff and a group of players, we are all trying to play it down. We constantly speak about not getting too carried away with the highs but also not getting too carried away with the lows, so it's trying to get the balance from that.
"But I am also understanding enough to recognise it's been too many games without a win and we need to get ourselves sorted as quickly as we can. Because if you start losing ground, there's no getting away from that.”
Sheerin anticipated a different game on Saturday from last weekend versus the Sons.
“I think the way Montrose play, they are a good footballing team and have proper talent at the top end of the pitch. They’ve obviously added to that with James Keatings (on loan from Raith Rovers) which is a brilliant signing for them. So I think their strength, with the greatest respect to their back lot, is definitely in attack.
"I think the game may be a bit more open than last Saturday and there may be more spaces to go and play in,” added Sheerin. “But, against that, you then have to stand up to the threat of what they bring in forward areas as well and that is their strength. They have real talent at the top end of the pitch.”
Sheerin reckoned it would be a good game featuring two teams who wanted to pass the ball and play with a high energy and a decent tempo.
Striker Samuel Ompreon will be missing after taking a knock last week, although the boss reckoned he may not be absent for long.
However, it’s expected Callumn Morrison could be sidelined until at least the end of the year after knee surgery.
“There was a real hope that would have been more positive but we’ll deal with it as best we can,” said Sheerin. “He will be a loss, and it’s no coincidence that we have missed him, but we’ll try to replace his energy and dynamism at the top end of the pitch. Declan McDaid (on loan from Dundee) will be an able replacement.”