Falkirk: Peter Houston hopes to keep pace with Rangers and Hibs

Houston's side have only suffered two league defeats this season
Houston's side have only suffered two league defeats this season

Falkirk manager Peter Houston believes his side can maintain their excellent form and keep the heat on Championship leaders Rangers and Hibernian.

A 5-0 demolition of Alloa - inspired by a John Baird hat-trick - moved the Bairns to within a point of second-placed Hibs, having played a game more.

"The two clubs above us are very good sides," Houston told BBC Scotland.

"What we have to do is rid ourselves of the inconsistencies of last year."

Houston concedes it will be a huge challenge to compete with Rangers and Hibs given their superior resources but believes his own side have improved this season.

"We're looking at the two teams who are ahead of us," Houston said.

"Last year, we had an awful lot of draws. This season, we are turning them into victories.

"Raith Rovers, we're also nine points ahead of them, albeit with a game in hand, and there are teams below us like Morton and Queen of the South.

"They are our cup finals in many ways. We go to Palmerston next week, which will be another tough game.

Baird has bagged 13 goals this season
Baird has bagged 13 goals this season

"The one thing I've said to the players is, rather than look too far forward, we take one game at a time and they're concentrating on that and getting the results that are required."

Baird's treble against Alloa took his goal tally for the season to 13 and Houston has been thrilled with the striker's recent displays.

"He's in real good form just now," said the manager. "I think that's his second hat-trick in four games.

"When he plays like that, he can become unplayable.

"He's a player who takes up great positions in the box, as strikers do, but his goal he's actually ran from the halfway line and beat their centre-half for pace.

"Great credit to him. John deserves the match-ball. He's been in hot form."

Bob McHugh also found the net against Alloa and Houston - whose side have lost only twice in the league all season - says all his strikers are chipping in with important contributions.

"Bob's been a wee bit unlucky," said the Falkirk boss. "They were starting to form a partnership that was looking quite good in the pre-season matches.

"Bob was actually out for five or six weeks with an ankle injury. He done his ankle and then, during his rehab, he done his other ankle.

"Lee Miller's come in and stood up to the plate as well. He scored the winner against Morton here in the last minute.

"So all three strikers I've got here - the older ones - have done exceptionally well and I've got a couple of good ones underneath in young Kevin O'Hara and Scott Shepherd, boys who could break into the Falkirk first team during this season."