Falkirk Leaving It Late
Updated Friday, 22nd May 2009
All to play for at the bottom of the SPL with a win a must for Falkirk to survive into 2009-10 as an SPL side.
John Hughes has been stunned by the lack of appreciation by his players of the difficult position they find themselves in heading to the last game of the season. They need to beat Inverness on Saturday to keep themselves in the SPL. The Bairns had a chance to be safe last weekend if they had won against St Mirren. However, Hughes' side failed to get started and take the opportunity to enjoy the last game as they turned in a strangely-flat showing in a 2-0 defeat that saw them return to the foot of the table and set up a nerve-tingling showdown with Inverness. Only three points will do for survival ahead of next weekend's Homecoming Scottish Cup final with Rangers, and Hughes has warned of the consequences of another below-par performance against Caley Thistle.
John Hughes in happier days
He said: "We've got another opportunity to go up there and keep ourselves in the SPL. We let ourselves down on Saturday and let the fans down. We knew we had to win a football match to stay in the SPL but we never got near it and didn't deserve victory. St Mirren were a far better side and thoroughly deserved their win. I just felt we looked leggy and never got started, which is a little bit of a concern for me because I hope the reality has hit home in that dressing room. I would rather have beaten St Mirren and someone else could have taken the Scottish Cup final place - that's what it means to me. It's all about staying in the SPL and when you get that opportunity and don't play the way you can, there are real frustrations there. There again, we've been given a second opportunity and that's all credit to the players. Two months ago, we were down and out and we've been given a second opportunity."
Falkirk secured a draw in Inverness already in the league and will also be boosted from the win in the Highlands in the Scottish Cup, a one-off game similar to the winner-takes-all nature of Saturday's meeting. However, with manager Terry Butcher and assistant Maurice Malpas' overseeing a revival at Caley Thistle since they arrived in January, Hughes is aware of the size of the task in hand. He said: "It's not going to be easy; Terry and Maurice have done a great job up there and it is always a very hard place to go to. You can see that over the years with the way the Old Firm have struggled up there. But we'll go up there and give it a go. This is our cup final and we're going to have to perform a lot better than we did on Saturday. The players are going to have to go away and use all the mental tools at their disposal to overcome the anxiety or the tension and just go out there and be free spirits and express themselves. If they can do that, that's when we're at our best."
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