Post-match verdict: Falkirk look good but still a work in progress

Brechin v Falkirk - Conor Sammon rifles home the penalty to put the Bairns 2-0 ahead (picture: Dave Cowie)
Brechin v Falkirk - Conor Sammon rifles home the penalty to put the Bairns 2-0 ahead (picture: Dave Cowie)

It’s difficult to read too much into results in pre-season’s friendlies but Falkirk boss Ray McKinnon will have been reasonably satisfied with his side’s work in their 3-0 win over Brechin.

With the competitive action against Livingston getting underway in the Betfred Cup on Saturday, it was a final chance to see his team in action and a final chance for someone to stake a claim in the first team before the serious stuff begins.

Brechin v Falkirk - Conor Sammon penalty 2-0 (picture: Davie Cowie)

Brechin v Falkirk - Conor Sammon penalty 2-0 (picture: Davie Cowie)

However, the team that started here at Glebe Park on Tuesday though will be more than likely the one that gets the nod against the Scottish Premiership side given that they cannot play trialists in the competition and McKinnon has few other options at his disposal – perhaps understandable given the massive summer overhaul of the squad once again.

He is putting together a good team, which should be more than capable of winning League One if they can maintain the level of quality brought in so far, but he is still extremely light in some areas of the park which need bolstering.

Midfield is undoubtedly the strongest point with Tidser, Telfer and Connolly all looking the part and linking up well, and Michael Doyle also caught the eye, providing support from the flanks and delivering a handful of dangerous crosses. Morgaro Gomis watched from the sidelines and is carrying a knock as too is winger Ross MacLean.

The defence was rarely troubled against their part-time opponents and will face a much tougher examination of their credentials against Livingston, but the early signs were positive with good understanding across the back four and goalkeeper Cammy Bell. Though beyond that there is very little cover.

Brechin v Falkirk - trialist striker for Falkirk (picture: Dave Cowie)

Brechin v Falkirk - trialist striker for Falkirk (picture: Dave Cowie)

Up front too needs strengthened. Striker Denny Johnstone, who is looking to win a long-term deal at the club, and partner Conor Sammon are a couple of weeks behind in their fitness and that was evident in their performance on Tuesday, despite both forwards getting on the scoresheet. They are the only two strikers at the club at present.

It was Johnstone who opened the scoring on 13 minutes and it was a well worked move. The striker and Telfer created space for Tidser to arrow a ball out wide where Dixon was waiting, he delivered an inviting cross, which Johnstone attacked with his head and the ball took a deflection off the defender before finding the back of the net.

But for some wayward finishing and good goalkeeping, Falkirk could have been further in front. Connolly forced Lewis McMinn into a good save with a long-range effort, Telfer then skewed his shot wide before a frantic 30 seconds saw Tidser hit the bar, and Sammon and Johnstone both miss glaring opportunities.

There was a scare for Falkirk at the other end as goalkeeper Bell, who had been a virtual spectator for most of the match, saw the ball come back off the frame of the goal from Ryan McCord’s header.

Brechin v Falkirk - Michael Tidser on the ball for Falkirk (picture: Dave Cowie)

Brechin v Falkirk - Michael Tidser on the ball for Falkirk (picture: Dave Cowie)

Falkirk extended their advantage in the second half when there was an infringement in the box and Sammon converted the spot kick sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

As soon as the clock struck 60 minutes, McKinnon brought on nine subs and naturally the natural flow of the game was disrupted. There were three French academy trialists along with the likes of former Dundee United defender Lewis Toshney, Blair Malcolm and Ciaran Summers hoping to impress.

The third goal arrived towards the end when a fine ball over the top from Mehdi Mina saw trialist number 19 race on to the pass and cooly lofted the ball over the top of the onrushing goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

A decent, worthwhile exercise but still a long way to go.

Brechin v Falkirk - Falkirk full-back Paul Dixon (picture: Dave Cowie)

Brechin v Falkirk - Falkirk full-back Paul Dixon (picture: Dave Cowie)

Brechin v Falkirk - Denny Johnstone header takes a deflection and goes in (picture: Dave Cowie)

Brechin v Falkirk - Denny Johnstone header takes a deflection and goes in (picture: Dave Cowie)