FALKIRK manager Peter Houston has told Alan Stubbs to fix the problems within his own side rather than claim Hibernian had simply been unlucky to lose out in yesterday’s Scottish Cup semi-final.
Houston refused to shy away from the reality that his team had come under immense pressure from the capital side but was angry at suggestions from his counterpart that, despite the final scoreline, only one side had deserved to win.
“I won’t sit here and tell lies, they put us under a lot of pressure but I thought defensively we handled everything they threw at us,” said the manager, who has already enjoyed success in this competition, as manager at Dundee United in 2010.
“Every game we have played against them this season Alan’s team has deserved to win, according to Alan, but I think what he should think about is where Falkirk are getting their goals from. It’s crosses into the box, so deal with it! That’s what I would do. As a coach I would be saying: ‘I need to stop crosses because every time they get crosses into our box they score goals’. So go back and look at the videos, they can’t deal with crosses into the box and I would say that is his problem and not mine.
“This season we have scored six goals against Hibernian and each one came from a cross into the box. We look at these things and we ask our players to put the ball into the box and Craig Sibbald, who is one of the smallest guys on the pitch, gets between defenders, and Baird scored at Easter Road getting between defenders.”
It was a tactic they again employed to sound effect at Hampden yesterday, with Sibbald heading home the only goal of the game. Houston added: “We ask our midfielders to get into the box and get deliveries into the box. It was a fantastic delivery and a great header and one fit to win any semi-final.
“I would admit that Hibs are unfortunate to lose the match if I’m being 100 per cent honest. Hibs put a lot into that match. They hit the crossbar once and the post when Jamie [MacDonald] touched it onto the post and it came back into his arms. But I thought we should have had a penalty for [Botti] Bia-Bi and the fourth official thought that as well.
“We didn’t have an awful lot of chances but it could have been 2-0 if we’d got that penalty. Rather than say just one team deserved to win, you should think about how the other team beat you, then look back at the other times we beat them.
“That’s three times we have beaten them this season and we have also drawn with them after being 3-1 down at Easter Road. I would be concerned if I was losing goals the way that Hibs lose goals to us.”
Hibs undoubtedly had the majority of the play and had they capitalised on even a couple of the chances that came their way, that defensive frailty may not have been enough to force their cup exit. Stubbs stood shell-shocked on the sidelines after the final whistle and he was no less bewildered by the defeat when he spoke to the media shortly afterwards.
“I’m probably feeling the same as a lot of people, it’s disbelief that we haven’t come through the game but we can’t create the amount of chances that we created in a game of football and not take at least one of them. From that point of view it is disappointing, but when you have controlled almost the entire game that makes it worse. But that’s semi-finals, its the worst time to lose in a competition, you are so close but yet so far. I just wish we’d had a little bit of the luck the opposition had today. But we have to be more clinical, I’m afraid.”
Houston, who would prefer Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the final and admits his biggest problem is now keeping his players match fit in the four-week gap between the end of the Championship season and the May 30 final, said the Hibs manager had to face facts.
“We had to battle and we had to defend well because Hibs are a decent side; they pass the ball well, they have good quality in Scott Allan and Fraser Fyvie and they are dangerous. However, you could go through statistics all day long and possession wise Hibs were probably well in front, chances wise Hibs were well in front but the most important stat of all is that Falkirk won 1-0.”