This encounter was as much about the managers in the dugout as it was the players on the pitch, and it was Dundee United’s Csaba Laszlo who finished the happier in his joust with predecessor Ray McKinnon and the circling critics.
Laszlo patrolled his technical area like a caged dog, barking out instructions and snarling at every player who passed his way after a pressure-filled week when his job was said to be on the line. The man he replaced at Tannadice almost a year ago was more measured but McKinnon’s frustrations with the squad he inherited from Paul Hartley were clear and will have multiplied by full-time.
Second-half goals from Pavol Safranko, pictured, and Craig Curran gave United the victory desperately needed by Laszlo to leave Falkirk pointless at the foot of the Championship.
“I think the most difficult job in the Scottish Championship or in Scottish football at the moment is to be the manager of Dundee United,” said Laszlo. “And maybe also to be a player from Dundee United. We are talking about a massive, very strong and very passionate club that wishes with all its heart to move up a level. At this moment, if something doesn’t go well to win games, you have critical noise.
“If we had not won everyone would have pointed at us. The team deserved the three points. The team handled the pressure positively and now we can close the chapter and look for the next game.”
It was a dire match badly in need of a goal and when it came in the 59th minute there was no surprise it was the result of a mistake. Fraser Aird’s looping cross from the right caught out Falkirk’s on-loan Celtic keeper, Leo Fasan, and Safranko nodded into the unguarded net.
Suddenly there was something for the supporters to shout about. Yannick Loemba thought he had added a second for United when he outfoxed Aaron Muirhead but Scott Harrison headed off the line, and seconds later on the counter-attack Deimantas Petravicius should have done better than screw his half-volley wide from six yards out.
When United keeper Matej Rakovan then blocked Joe McKee’s powerful effort, Falkirk’s chances of avoiding a sixth successive defeat slipped away. Curran’s perceptive head-flick, which looped over Fasan from Loemba’s cross, ensured it was Laszlo who took the spoils and a earned boost to his chances of staying in post.
“In both boxes the quality wasn’t what I was looking for,” admitted a frustrated McKinnon. “We’ve gifted them a goal and then we’ve missed two or three chances, and then we’ve gifted them a second goal.”