Fan fever inspires Falkirk players, says Peter Houston

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
Falkirk players celebrate against Hibs
Falkirk beat Hibernian to reach the final
Scottish Premiership play-off final, first leg: Falkirk v Kilmarnock
Venue: Falkirk Stadium Date: Thursday 19 May Kick-off: 19:45
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport website

Peter Houston says the Falkirk players are taking inspiration from the reaction of fans to the club reaching the Premiership play-off final.

Fans have formed long queues outside Falkirk Stadium this week ahead of the two legs against Kilmarnock.

"It's the talk of the dressing-room," said manager Houston.

"It tells you that the fans are right behind the club, they want to be here to see the ambition to try to get back into the Premiership."

The Championship side, who defeated Hibernian in Friday's semi-final, host Kilmarnock in the first-leg on Thursday.

And they have already sold out the home allocation, while only a few hundred tickets remain for the second-leg at Rugby Park on Sunday.

"I've spoken to friends who are publicans up in the city centre who said the place was jumping on Friday night," said Houston.

Falkirk manager Peter Houston
Peter Houston hopes the time has come for his Falkirk side to win promotion

"That's what you expect, because Falkirk fans are passionate about their club and they're not shy to show it.

"When you're not winning games, they're not shy about that either."

Houston is confident his Falkirk players will maintain the form that carried them to second place in the Championship.

His side lost only four league games all season, only one of which was to a team - Livingston - outwith champions Rangers and third-top Hibernian.

Kilmarnock have struggled all season in the Premiership and were unable to avoid finishing second bottom despite replacing Gary Locke as manager with Lee Clark.

Houston admits that Kilmarnock's inconsistency means that Falkirk cannot predict what kind of games they will face in the two legs but says that his players are in a positive frame of mind following their dramatic, last-minute winning goal in Friday's 3-2 victory over Hibs.

No fear for Falkirk

"We're really looking forward to two games against Kilmarnock and we know they're going to be very difficult games," he said.

"When you look at the results that Hibs have had against good clubs in the Premiership this season, and Rangers as well, who beat Kilmarnock, then you say to yourself that we'll have a go and we shouldn't fear anything.

"With the way that we're playing, we've proven this season that we've been difficult to beat.

"We hope to put Kilmarnock under pressure and give them a right good go over the two games.

"We have a great desire not to get beaten, we work very hard in every match.

"We don't always play well, but these are the characteristics of teams that can win football matches."

Houston, whose side reached last year's Scottish Cup final before losing to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, says his players have begun to show they have the mentality to perform in front of "big, partisan crowds".

"They've gone to Hamdpen in the cup final and they didn't freeze," he said. "That experience will stand them in good stead in the next couple of games."

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