Not enough quality in both boxes was how Falkirk boss Ray McKinnon succinctly put it after watching his side succumb to a sixth straight defeat in the Scottish Championship at the hands of Dundee United.
It was hard to argue with that assessment, and hard to offer Falkirk fans – 4000 turned up at the weekend presumably in hope rather than expectation – any crumb of comfort heading into a huge six-pointer with Alloa this weekend.
It sounds like mere hyperbole to be talking about those types of games with the season still in its infancy. However, given the start made and the highly competitive nature of the league, going six points behind the Wasps would give the Bairns a mountain to climb.
The disappointing defeat last Saturday was courtesy of second-half headers from Pavol Safranko and Craig Curran. Perhaps the most concerning thing for Falkirk was that Dundee United weren’t even that good – they didn’t need to be – certainly, more would have been expected from a side with ambitions of promotion at the third time of asking.
Strangely enough, it was Csaba Laszlo in the visiting dugout who was under more pressure after draws with Alloa and Morton. The Falkirk fans are unhappy at what they are seeing so far this season, and rightly so, but their ire isn’t directed at Paul Hartley’s successor.
After a largely forgettable first half, the opening goal arrived on 59 minutes.
It is one that goalkeeper Leo Fasan is unlikely to look back on with any degree of satisfaction after coming to flap at Fraser Aird’s hopeful rather than accurate delivery, which the Italian shot-stopper looked favourite to pick out of the sky. Instead, he got caught underneath the ball and was out jumped by the Slovakian striker who nodded into the empty net.
Chances were at a premium for the Bairns who searched for an equaliser, but the lack of quality which McKinnon alluded to after hampered any hope of a revival. There were fleeting moments of positivity, particularly from Deimantas Petravicius. The Lithuanian used his pace and power to get a shot away, which the keeper Matej Rakovan spilled into the path of Marcus Haber, who elected to play in Zak Rudden instead of shooting himself and Jamie Robson cut out the pass.
Perhaps the key 60 seconds of the game arrived shortly after. United looked certain to double their lead when Yannick Loemba fired in a venomous shot which Scott Harrison cleared off the line. It sparked a counter attack, Rudden played in Petravicius who looked certain to score but he failed to connect properly from six yards and fired wide.
Falkirk’s hopes were extinguished on 85 minutes when Curran had the freedom of penalty area to send a looping header over Fasan, sparking a mass exodus of fans to the exits.
The search for a win continues as the Bairns travel to the Indodril Stadium on Saturday in what is already looking like a must-not lose game.