Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark has confidence in his players to get out of their relegation battle – but he warned they cannot fall short on effort against a relentless Falkirk side.
Clark watched the Bairns come from behind to knock Hibernian out of the Ladbrokes Premiership play-offs thanks to Bob McHugh’s injury-time goal on Friday night, which set up a two-legged tie against Killie.
Clark rested most of his first team during a 4-2 defeat by Dundee United on Saturday to help them get ready for their trip to Falkirk on Thursday.
“I’ve got belief in the players,” he said. “We have got to have the high fitness levels we have had, we have got to have fight and determination and we have got to keep going until the very last whistle of the second game, because they certainly will.
“If we do all that, we give ourselves a good chance. If we fall short on any of that, Falkirk will take over the tie because that’s what they have got in abundance.”
United started the better side at Rugby Park and took the lead through Mark Durnan’s header, but slack play from the visitors allowed Kallum Higginbotham and Tope Obadeyi to turn the game on its head inside seven first-half minutes.
But Clark took off experienced defenders Lee Hodson and Conrad Balatoni midway through the second half to save them from second bookings and United took advantage. Simon Murray struck a brilliant double and Harry Souttar headed his first goal for the club.
Murray took his tally to four goals in three matches since United were relegated from the Premiership and he was delighted to catch the eye of watching new manager Ray McKinnon, who allowed caretaker boss Gordon Young to take the team.
Murray said: “We have been trying to get positive results that we can take into next season. That was a good way to finish the season, unbeaten in the last three games. Youngy told us to enjoy it and do yourself proud.
“There wasn’t as much pressure but obviously we had a few young boys out there and the new manager was watching, so there was still some pressure. It’s always good to score but it was even better that he got to see them.
“He came in to meet the boys but we never really got to speak because he was letting Youngy take the team.
“I have got mates at Raith who said he was brilliant there so I’m looking forward to him coming in.”