WHEN Thomas McManus starts the game, Thomas McManus scores. That’s the pattern beginning to appear for Falkirk.

The striker, missing for five months with a knee injury, has only started four league games this season, but he has four goals to his name.

His latest one was the winner against Queen of the South - the same team he saw off with a double on his debut in September, and now he has his sights set on maintaining his goal-a-game ratio by shooting down high-flying Raith Rovers.

“This could be the start of something big,” he told Heraldsport. “Winning our next 10 games is achievable, we’re capable of that. We believe it too, but we need to prove it.

“It was a very frustrating time watching the team and not being able to help out scoring goals but touch wood I can stay fit and now get the goals Falkirk need to get to the top of the league - or as close to it as possible.

“We’re now looking forward to a massive game against a team on top of the league. We just need to win, simple as that.”

Statistically too, McManus has yet to start a match for the Bairns and lose, so on this form he’s a stick-on to start if fit. The striker limped off at Palmerston after 65 minutes, but he’d already done his deed for the day. McManus’ winning goal was intensified by draws in other games and allowed Bairns to close the gap at the top, if only slightly.

He’s confident though, that he’ll be fit for Saturday’s crunch match. Victory for the Bairns takes them to within nine points of Raith Rovers, but with three games in hand. “I kicked the bottom of [Ryan McGuffie’s] boot. I’ve got a bit of a lump on my shin but I should be fit for Saturday.

“I was delighted to score again, it’s a big result - we needed the three points from Dumfries.

“It’s in the six-yard box the ball’s bobbled into me and i’ve managed to stick it away. It’s not the cleanest hit in the world but it’s in the net and I’m delighted, I was unlucky to hit the post I think in the second half too.

“With Raith and Dunfermline drawing it means we’re back in the shake-up.

“Raith’s a massive match and we go into it on the back of a massive result with the other scores going for us. Win on Saturday and we are not just in the shake-up - we are right in there.”

It’s a significant turn around from Saturday when all seemed lost after the Bairns threw away a two-goal lead with Dundee and only took a point from a game they should have won.

Victory over Queen of the South ended four games without a win but now confidence is back.

“Results in the last few weeks have dented us a wee bit,” McManus admitted. “But in our hearts knew we had a chance but had to prove it on the park.

“We felt and looked more composed against Queen of the South and hopefully we’ve learned from the Dundee game. It was devastating to be two up on 65 minutes and go to 2-2 but we played well on the whole.

“It was disappointing at the end to hear people saying this and that about us - we should have won that game, we know that.”

But now they hope record their first win at home in exactly a month.

They’ll do that without Mehdi Khalis who is on international duty while Ryan Flynn and Kieran Duffie will be assessed today (Thursday).