BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Falkirk boss Peter Houston admits last season’s heartbreaking Scottish Cup final defeat was the worst moment of his entire career.
With the score tied at 1-1 and Inverness down to 10 men, the Bairns appeared to be on the ascendancy and were dreaming of bringing the cup back to Falkirk for the first time since 1957.
However, a catalogue of errors saw Caley pinch the victory in the dying embers, with James Vincent prodding home from close range to round off a swift counter attack.
Houston has spent the summer picking through the bones of the defeat and, having lapped up the joy of winning the trophy with Dundee United in 2010, the experience of coming out on the losing side was devastating.
He said: “The best moment of my career was winning the cup with Dundee United, the worst moment – as an individual – was losing it. It was such a missed opportunity for everyone.
“I was with Craig (Levein) as assistant when United lost the League Cup final on penalties against Rangers and that was a huge disappointment, because we were the better team that day.
“But losing a major final as a manager in your own right was just a gutting experience. It’s hard to put into words.”
However, Houston has urged his players to use the pain of their Scottish Cup defeat to drive them on towards a playoff place in the Championship this term.
Speaking from the club’s pre-season trip to Ireland, where they defeated Drogheda Town 5-2 yesterday, he added: “We can be proud of ourselves, they (Inverness) were the third-best team in Scotland and we outplayed them in that second half, we battered them. We have to take the positives from that.
“I saw things in that game that gives me heart and tells me the improvement we have made. I think I’m coaching a really good side here.
“Last season we only took 10 points from our first 10 games and narrowly missed out on the playoffs. We are a much better side now. We know each other’s strengths and we have knitted together as a unit.
“We have a system that works for us and, with the Cup final in the past, it is about starting this season well and getting points on the board early, which we didn’t do last year.”