BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Peter Houston is hopeful his Falkirk side will – quite literally – have the balls for a promotion push after Christmas.
The Bairns boss has joked his squad are in danger of running out of balls after seeing some go astray during shooting practice on away days at the likes of Alloa and Dumbarton.
On top of their carelessness, the Championship chasers have lost others because of the tradition of gifting the match ball to scorers of hat-tricks.
With John Baird having netted two trebles and Lee Miller chipping in with his own in Saturday’s Scottish Cup triumph over Highland League side Fraserburgh, Houston admits he may have to look at replenishing the club’s stock for the second half of the campaign.
He quipped: “You go away to grounds in the Championship, for example Alloa, and do shooting drills before kick-off, and if the ball gets smashed right over the top you actually lose balls.
“The big stadiums like Ibrox or Easter Road are okay but we have lost a few balls this season. There’s not a week goes by that you don’t lose at least one and they’re not cheap either.
“John Baird’s now had a couple of hat-tricks but he also asked for an extra ball for a young supporter, and then Lee scored a hat-trick at the weekend.
“So, there’s four balls going out – three because of hat-tricks and one because of the generosity of our kitman.
“Sometimes you pick up a ball from another team – I think we’ve got a St Mirren one and a Raith Rovers one. But they’ve probably got Falkirk ones as well, so I say to the young boys ‘try and get as many balls as you can!’.
“I think we get another allocation at Christmas – I certainly hope we do anyway, because we’ll be running low. We’ll have about 10 balls between us all by the end of the season.
“But, I’ll tell you what, I’ll never complain about balls going out because of hat-tricks. That’s the one I’ll quite happily lose.”
Falkirk host Livingston tomorrow hoping to take full advantage knowing that at least two of the sides around them will drop points.
League leaders Rangers travel to fifth-placed Raith Rovers, whilst fourth-placed Morton host second-top Hibs.
However, Houston is fully aware that Livingston, who became the first team other than Hibs to take points from Rangers when they snatched a draw last month, will be no pushovers.
He added: “We’ll need to focus on ourselves but we’d like to make it a good weekend, and a good weekend for us would be us winning and then see what happens elsewhere.
“Livingston’s going to be a tough test and people will think Falkirk should win that at home. If you’ve got a mentality like that, there will be problems.”