Can Hartley’s new-look Falkirk make a splash in the new season?
After coming close to promotion several times in recent years, last season was something of a step back for Falkirk. The Bairns finished eighth in the Ladbrokes Championship. But this summer’s transfer business points to better times ahead.
Boss Paul Hartley already showed last term that he’s able to steady the ship. He arrived at Falkirk Stadium in October 2017, with the club having managed just six points from their opening eight games.
While they did finish in a fairly lowly eighth, the Forth Valley club closed the campaign closer on points to the promotion play-off spots (12) than to Dumbarton in ninth place (17).
The play-offs are absolutely a realistic aim in light of Hartley’s savvy summer recruitment. In fact, a title tilt is plausible.
The focus has been on bringing in fresh young talents who’ve impressed down south – but the Bairns squad for 2018-19 also has a smattering of experienced names who’ve played at a high level.
Falkirk have opened their transfer kitty to bring in highly-rated Newport County midfielder Tom Owen-Evans. The 21-year-old has already proved himself as a versatile and composed midfielder with an impressive range of passing.
Elsewhere, Hartley has brought in a number of savvy freebies.
Imposing left- back Patrick Brough has been a key man for Carlisle United and Morecambe – helping the latter narrowly avoid the drop from League Two last term.
Perhaps the most exciting addition, though, has been 22-year-old winger Deimantas Petravicius. The Lithuanian prodigy arrives from Motherwell, but has featured in the Polish top-flight, and become a regular for his national side in recent times.
Add in the steel of new boy Paul Paton and club captain Aaron Muirhead, and the Bairns look to be very well-balanced ahead of next season.
Hartley led Dundee to the Championship title in 2013-14. So can he repeat the feat at Falkirk Stadium, and end the eight-year wait for top-flight football?
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