FALKIRK hero Kevin McAllister has backed his former Bairns team-mate Peter Houston to devise a master tactic should he be missing top goalscorer Rory Loy for the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals.
Loy, who has signed a pre-contract deal with Dundee, has not played since suffering an ankle injury in the last-eight game against Queen of the South, and Falkirk are desperately trying to get him fit to face Hibernian today.
Houston is also without ineligible forward John Baird and another striker, Botti Biabi, missed last weekend’s defeat by Queens with mumps, forcing 16-year-old Kevin O’Hara to come on up front.
The selection crisis threatens to undermine their hopes of beating Hibs but McAllister, who helped Falkirk reach the 1997 final, believes if anyone can devise a plan B, it is Houston.
“If Rory is fit, that will give the players and supporters a big lift,” McAllister said as he previewed the game on behalf of William Hill. “Five of Falkirk’s last six games have been 1-0, three for and two against. Missing Rory has been a blow for them because any team at Falkirk’s level would miss a good goalscorer like that.
“If Rory doesn’t make it then they are basically without their two recognised strikers. That would be a tough ask for them but I’m sure Peter Houston will have a game plan if Rory doesn’t make it. He has won a cup with Dundee United so he has plenty of experience in semi-finals.
“When I signed for Falkirk in 1983 from Camelon Juniors, Peter was a player and he helped me a lot. He was an experienced player at the time, a good character in the dressing room.
“The supporters loved him, he was the ‘Ginger God’. I don’t know what they call him now, right enough!
“He has plenty of experience and has worked in the Scotland set-up so if his key players don’t make it, he will have something up his sleeve.”
McAllister has remained close to the club since his playing days and will again travel to Hampden on a supporters’ bus two years after watching Hibs come from three behind to beat his team at the same stage.
But the former Chelsea winger feels that experience will harden the Bairns.
“They will not want it to happen again,” the 53-year-old said. “There is nothing worse than getting beat in a semi-final. I have experienced it myself and it’s terrible, you just want to get off the pitch. With being 3-0 up the boys would have felt even worse. Boys like Craig Sibbald, Blair Alston and Kieran Duffie will not want to go through that again and will make them even more determined to go through as winners.”
McAllister, who scored a stunning solo goal in a 1998 semi-final loss to Hearts, added: “It’s just about winning in a semi-final. You can play well and lose and you can play bad and win.
“The year we beat Celtic we got a goal and hung on for about 75 minutes. It was probably the best moment of my career when the whistle went.
“The year later we got beat by Hearts when we played well. The thing is just to get through.”
Although McAllister’s heart remains with Falkirk, he also spent more than three years with Hibs, but he does not recall the pressure of trying to become the first Easter Road side to win the trophy since 1902.
“We only got to one semi-final but I wasn’t aware of it ever being mentioned,” he said.
“But it was never 100 years though. In between then, Hearts have won it a couple of times so that puts the pressure on the Hibs players.
“They have been in a few semis and a few finals but have just not got over the line.
“They will probably think this is a good chance for them to have another crack at it, but that puts the pressure on them as well.”
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