Alex Smith: Play-off experience will aid Falkirk against Dundee United

Alex Smith and Peter Houston
Falkirk technical director Alex Smith (left), and boss Peter Houston (right) have both managed Dundee United

Alex Smith believes Falkirk will be boosted by their experience of play-off football as they tackle Dundee United in the Premiership semi-final tie.

The Bairns lost 4-1 to Kilmarnock over two legs in last season's decisive clash, having seen off Hibernian.

They travel to Tannadice for the first encounter on Tuesday, before hosting United three days later.

"I would like to think (our experience) will be an advantage," club technical director Smith told BBC Scotland.

"I would like to think we would learn from last year - it was a hard lesson and hopefully they'll take that experience forward."

Having finished second, one place higher than their opponents, in the regular Championship season, Peter Houston's side have benefited from an extra week of rest, while United battled past Morton in the play-off quarter-finals.

"I don't think there was any doubt (we ran out of steam) last year," former Terrors boss Smith added.

"We had played the games we were asked to play, managed to win the three games, but Kilmarnock were able to rest their players because they knew their destination, and their league results didn't matter.

"The first game, we noticed a slight difference in terms of our sharpness but managed to win late-on. But on the Sunday, a few days later, we just seemed to run out. Kilmarnock started very, very strongly, scored two goals in the first period, which made it difficult for us to lift ourselves.

"I think it is better that Peter and the team get a rest prior to the (United) game. I hope it works out that way."

Alex Smith consoles Will Vaulks after Falkirk were beaten by Kilmarnock in the 2016 Scottish Premiership play-off final
Falkirk were thumped 4-0 by Kilmarnock in the second leg of last season's Premiership play-off final

Falkirk have been in Scotland's second tier since 2010, and Smith believes they are ready to re-enter the top flight after successive runners-up finishes.

"I think it's now getting to that stage," Smith said. "The club has worked hard the last few seasons in building up slowly, and I think now we would be prepared, if we did manage to achieve our aim, to handle it.

"We know Dundee United. We know the club, we know the thinking within the club. We know it's a difficult place to go and play, but so is our place.

"We'll have our players up for the two games, and we'll just be hoping that on the week we get the results necessary to get Falkirk back up to where I think they belong."

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