BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Falkirk stars have been told to take a leaf out of Leicester’s book as they attempt to beat Hibs to second place in the Championship.
Peter Houston’s men lead the Hibees by three points in the battle to secure runners-up spot to Rangers, albeit the capital club boast two games in hand.
The Bairns, who have overachieved for much of this season, have endured a wobble of late, winning just one of their last four matches, most recently throwing away a two goal lead to draw 2-2 with Queen of the South on Saturday.
They will aim to get back to winning ways against St Mirren this weekend – but the encounter against Hibs at Easter Road three days later is looming large.
Nevertheless, Bairns first-team coach James McDonaugh is refusing to cast his mind towards that trip to Leith – and believes the fairytale Foxes are the perfect example of how far a focused mentality can take you.
McDonaugh, who was previously under-20s coach at Hibs, said: “It’s all about focus this week. People are going to say ‘what about the Hibs game?’ but we can’t let the players think about that or St Mirren will punish us.
“I watch a lot of Leicester and listen to what their manager [Claudio Ranieri] says and they are massive on that ‘next game is the biggest game’ mantra.
“The players are not even thinking about the title, and look how well that has served them. That’s the same here.
“When you start thinking about the prize at the end of the season or looking to the Hibs game, then you can take your eye off the ball – and that’s a sure-fire way to drop points.
“Obviously, as a coaching team, we need to have one eye on Hibs on Tuesday, in terms of thinking about how the game on Saturday might affect the game at Easter Road. But we make sure the players are focused on one thing only.”
Despite their last four games including defeat against Livingston and draws against Dumbarton and Queens, McDonaugh is adamant no-one is feeling sorry for themselves ahead of a fraught run-in.
He said: “There is no point getting angry or upset about what we could have achieved, rather than being proud of what we have achieved.
“We’ve only lost four league games all season. If someone had told us that at the start of the season then you would have been staggered.
“We play Rangers alone four times, yet we’ve only lost a total of four games. That’s something to be proud of.
“All teams sometimes lose late goals. Rangers have lost late goals against ourselves, for example, and they are the best team in this league, so it’s not something we can dwell on. It’s a measure of how tough the games are.”