Falkirk manager Peter Houston has won the Ladbrokes Championship Manager of the Season award, following an impressive campaign which saw the Bairns finish in second spot.
Houston’s men ended the season as the league’s second-highest scorers – behind only Rangers – and gained a well-deserved reputation as comeback kings.
The Bairns took 14 points from losing positions, including games again Rangers and St Mirren where they recovered from 2-0 down to win.
But a defensive solidity instilled by the former Dundee United boss has also been crucial, with the 34 goals Falkirk conceded the joint-lowest in the Ladbrokes Championship, en route to just four defeats in the entire campaign.
The importance of building a strong defensive unit has been a major focus for Houston, who told Ladbrokes News: “We focused on making ourselves difficult to break down defensively, while taking our chances when we created them.”
However, the 57-year-old does see his Falkirk charges as “an attacking team who have created a lot of chances in games throughout the season.”
And he credits a handful of prolific scorers with the club’s improved strike-rate, singling out John Baird, Bob McHugh and Blair Alston for praise – claiming they have “been massive in improving our goalscoring record this season.”
The amiable Falkirk boss is keen to heap the praise onto his squad, especially when it comes to their knack for late goals – scoring an incredible 17 goals beyond the 80-minute mark in all competitions.
“We’ve managed to score late goals for a number of reasons, including tactical changes, fitness, and team spirit – but that spirit and belief was the biggest factor in our side taking so many points late on”, Houston told us.
He added: “The Falkirk fans – to a man – have also been magnificent. This season we’ve made Falkirk Stadium a fortress, scoring late so often and only losing two home league games all season.”
The Bairns may have narrowly missed out on promotion after Ladbrokes Premiership Play-off final defeat to Kilmarnock, but with an excellent manager and a fearsome strikeforce boosted by the arrival of East Fife hitman Nathan Austin, expect them to come strong again next season.
It’s 11/2 Falkirk win the Ladbrokes Championship title in 2016-17, and with Rangers out of the picture, Houston’s men have an excellent shot at going up as champions.
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