MONDAY VERDICT: Dingwall looms for Falkirk and it could be a nightmare up north

Sports reporter Jonny Clark watched Falkirk's 3-0 home drubbing to Queen of the South, and has his say on what went on, and what's to come, for the Bairns.

Paul Hartley heads down the tunnel at the end of a horrific afternoon on the pitch for the Bairns. Picture Michael Gillen.
Paul Hartley heads down the tunnel at the end of a horrific afternoon on the pitch for the Bairns. Picture Michael Gillen.

Falkirk captain Aaron Muirhead told the press he was “embarrassed” at the 3-0 defeat to Queen of the South on Saturday – and he wasn’t the only one scathing in his criticism of the performance.

Manager Paul Hartley and his players would have been wise to have avoided social media in the aftermath of Saturday’s hammering – with many claiming this was the single worst 90 minutes they have ever seen from a Falkirk side.

Worse than last season’s 4-1 home reverse by Queens nearly a year to the day and worse than the 7-0 humiliation against Ross County in 2015.

Andy Irving turns away after Dobbie's second. Picture Michael Gillen.

Thoughts of that cold Tuesday night in Dingwall will be flooding back to Bairns supporters as they prepare for their longest trip of the season this weekend. Without any improvement, it could turn out to be another nightmare in the north.

Ross County have started the season strongly, despite defeat to Morton on Saturday, and are rightly league favourites. Hartley’s new-look side, now bottom of the table, will have to put Saturday behind them immediately in order to get anything from the match.

That may not prove to be as easy as it sounds.

The statistics at the bottom of the two-page spread attributed to Falkirk FC this week, and every week in The Falkirk Herald, speak for themselves – conceding 27 shots at home to a Queen of the South side expected to finish middle of the Championship pack without registering an effort on target won’t be easy to forget.

Fans took to social media to release their anger - but many aired their views audibly at the ground. Picture Michael Gillen.

The one stat that doesn’t give the full picture is the full-time score – because it could have been worse.

Muirhead admitted 10-0 wouldn’t have flattered the visitors, with Queens manager Gary Naysmith saying the same.

Stephen Dobbie, hat-trick hero on the day, could have had six. The one positive for the Bairns being that they won’t have to face a striker of his quality too often this campaign.

Dobbie opened the scoring on 11 minutes after slack marking from a throw-in and doubled his advantage on 38 minutes after sprinting away from Scott Harrison – despite giving the central defender a head start.

His third goal took a long time coming, and he missed so many chances that he joked with manager Naysmith after the game that he will spend Monday working on shooting, because he should have had nine.

Leo Fasan, the only Bairn to come out of Saturday with any credit, was crucial in keeping the score down. The Italian denied 35-year-old Dobbie on six or seven occasions.

At the other end, despite going two up top, Falkirk offered nothing bar balls into the box.

A tough, tough afternoon that will see Falkirk ‘get back to basics’ at training this week, and then on Saturday, but the fundamental facts of the week and season so far are unpalatable for the fans heading back to the scene of one of the team’s most severe recent defeats.