Falkirk manager Peter Houston insists his side punched above their weight to finish second in the Championship – and has backed his players to prove that hunger can outshine Dundee United’s greater financial resources in the play-offs.
The two sides locks horns in the Premiership semi-final first leg at Tannadice on Tuesday evening after United eliminated Morton from the promotion running.
Houston is also hoping that that experience of being involved in last season’s play-offs will stand his players in good stead after they beat Hibs at the same stage before falling short of reaching the top-fight in 4-1 aggregate defeat to Kilmarnock.
He said “Yes, they’re the bigger club than us – that is without doubt. The support base is bigger than ours, not a lot but it is, which means they’ve got more season ticket holders and means they’ve got more money.
“They’re able to pay players probably a lot more than what we can pay.
“We’ve got a fairly strict budget that I’ve got to work to and I’m convinced that there’s is a lot bigger than ours.
“But sometimes it does not come down to budgets, it comes down to the group of players we’ve got and how important it is to them.
“I know if you’ve got a good group of professionals, they don’t look at the money side.
They look at the prestige of getting out of this division and trying to play in the Premiership because that might be that last time for some of them. Our aim and our focus is on us and how we can take this club forward.
“I’ve been here for three years almost and we’ve built this group of players up and they’re terrific. I’ve got to give them credit.
“We reached a Scottish Cup final and twice in a row we’ve finished second in the league, this is with teams like Hibs, Rangers and Hearts in the league.
“It’s been a tough, tough two years and I came with hope of getting this team back in the Premiership, where I think a club like Falkirk belongs.”
Houston insists he still regrets his decision to send out an attacking team in last season’s second leg at Kilmarnock.
The Rugby Park side bounced back from a 1-0 loss at Falkirk to preserve their Premiership status with a convincing 4-0 victory in Ayrshire, scoring twice inside eight minutes.
Houston added: “Both those Hibs games (in the semi-final) went to about 97 minutes, not just 90.
“Coming here, the emotions were really high against Hibs. That takes a lot out of you physically as well as mentally.
“We won 1-0 in the first Kilmarnock game but I felt we were lucky to win 1-0.
“In the second leg, they blew us away in the first eight minutes and they deserved to win.
“But I think we’ve learned from that and there’s things I’ve learned as well because there are things we probably should have done in the second leg, holding a 1-0 lead.
“We still went with two strikers, a formation and system that served us brilliantly last year but we probably should have bottled it up a wee bit to start the game. I never did that and I regret it.
“Hopefully we’ve learned from last season’s play-offs, can we take it one stage further? That’s the question.”