BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Will Vaulks insists Falkirk now fear no-one after getting to within touching distance of last season’s Scottish Cup.
The Bairns may have eventually lost out to Inverness Caley Thistle in May’s showpiece final but Vaulks believes the road to Hampden has equipped the Bairns with the firm belief they can be a match for anyone on their day.
The wearying journey to Dingwall can be one that fills many with dread and Ross County’s current form ensures it would not have been the favoured draw of most left in this season’s League Cup.
However, thanks to their cup exploits – including last month’s 1-0 win over Partick Thistle – and the inclusion of Rangers, Hibernian and Hearts in the Championship in recent times, Vaulks reckons Peter Houston’s men are now used to performing on the big occasion and will travel north with confidence.
“Especially with beating Partick Thistle in the last round, we’ll go up there with belief we can win,” said Vaulks.
“Getting to the Scottish Cup final last season has given us a lot of confidence when we come up against Premiership teams. So, we’re more than confident going up there trying to get through.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game, they are more than favourites, but we draw inspiration from getting to the Scottish Cup final last season.
“I think we’re used to big games now, whereas a season or so ago we hadn’t had that many big games.
“Going up to Ross County at that stage, we might have feared it and thought to ourselves ‘it’s a Premiership team’ and all that.
“But we’re used to big games now. We’ve got big clubs in our league and we’ve played big cup games as well.
“I think that helps, because a lot of the squad’s still here from the cup run and from the big games last season.
“We’ve got good experience, mixed with good youth, so we won’t be scared going up there or fearing the big occasion, playing against a Premiership team.”
Falkirk have suffered just one defeat and have won seven of their 10 matches so far this term, but a 90th-minute mistake from on-loan Aberdeen keeper Danny Rogers robbed them of a fifth successive victory as they slipped to a 1-1 draw with Alloa Athletic at the weekend.
However, having taken in County’s recent 2-1 win over Dundee United, Houston is adamant the Bairns can pull off a shock, just like they did in the previous round.
“I have every confidence in my team that we can be a match for Ross County,” said Houston.
“Ross County are a very good side. I was up there to see them play Dundee United and in the first-half they were brilliant.
“But I came away from the game thinking ‘if we’re organised and we’ve got a good shape about us, and we work really hard we could maybe do something’.
“I think there’s an opportunity for us to get to a quarter-final, but only if we go about it the right way. There’s certainly no fear amongst the group.
“We went to Partick Thistle and won, and Partick and Ross County would probably give each other a right good ding-dong – and we gave Partick a right good ding-dong in that game.
“We’ll go up there with a positivity about us where we think, within ourselves, we could do quite well and possibly get into the quarter-finals.”