With Scottish Cup ties taking place this week, it is easy to forget about one of the Championship’s most important games of the season.
Falkirk travel to Alloa on Saturday, in a game that could finally lift Falkirk off the bottom of the table, with just four points separating the bottom four. Bairns goalkeeper David Mitchell spoke to NTOF about the tough times at the Falkirk Stadium this season.
The shot-stopper has made nine appearances so far this term, following a lengthy spell out with injury.
“It’s been hard, we’re obviously not doing too great having been near the bottom most of the season,” he said.
“I’ve been in and out the squad as well which hasn’t been great, but I’ll keep trying to take the positives from everything. It’s been tough.”
It hasn’t been pretty viewing for Bairns fans this season. They have only won five games and despite an upturn in form since the start of 2019, performances still haven’t been great.
With the joint lowest amount of goals in the Championship and the third most goals conceded, Falkirk have struggled at both ends of the park.
Mitchell knows there are many areas the Bairns could improve in. Manager Ray McKinnon acted on these weaknesses, bringing in lots of new faces in January. The keeper believes these stars could save Falkirk’s season.
“I think after Paul Hartley got sacked at the start of the season, that’s when it really hit home we were in a relegation scrap. It’s quite hard to find any positives. The new boys have all done well though, they have all played in Scotland which makes it’s easier to gel.
“We already know some of the boys, and we have all been in football long enough to get to know people . I think they could plug the gaps in our squad. It’s players that know this league.
“Ian McShane spent time with St Mirren, Abdul Osman and Paul Dixon have experience. Every boy that has came in has brought something to the team.”
Ray McKinnon and room for improvement
When Hartley was sacked by the Bairns, Ray McKinnon was brought into the club in controversial circumstances. They have enjoyed some decent form in patches since his arrival, clawing themselves back into the hunt for survival
Whilst there was uproar from fans and onlookers across the country in the wake of McKinnon’s appointment, this never affected the Falkirk players according to Mitchell, insisting they were only focused on Championship survival.
“To be completely honest, Ray McKinnon’s appointment wasn’t something we looked at, never really focused in on it. That side of things have nothing to do with the players, we just try and get on with what we are there for.
“I think a positive since McKinnon has came in, is that we have managed to pick up results here and there. In terms of improvements, I don’t know to be fair, it’s hard to say.
“I think we need to stop conceding sloppy goals. That’s something that has happened all season, so if we managed to sort that then that would be an improvement.”
Returning from injury and survival hopes
Mitchell missed most of his first season at the Bairns due to a knee injury, but has managed to get back playing this term.
Whilst he hasn’t been the permanent number one, he has already enjoyed more minutes than he did the full of last season, having played just one Championship game last term.
He told NTOF how great it has been to be back, and his hopes for Falkirk’s season: ” It’s been great playing again, it was really hard during that year out. At one point during it I thought I was finished, so to be training again even is great.
“It was great to keep a clean sheet against Ayr. Somerset Park is a hard place to go, and it’s one of my old clubs, so it was nice. It rounded off what has been quite a horrible year for me.
“I’m hopeful that the club will stay up, but I’ve obviously found myself back out of the team. For me, my number one aim is to get back in goals and start contributing to the team again.”