While Partick Thistle remain firmly in title contention, Falkirk have plenty of work to do to get involved in the Irn-Bru First Division promotion push, with a home draw against Jackie McNamara's side yesterday not exactly a signal of their intentions.
Thistle again lost top spot in the standings, but have already shown they have the skill, defensive resolve and attacking flair to be considered serious challengers. Steven Pressley's side became the first team to stop the Jags scoring on league duty this season, but they still couldn't claim a crucial victory.
"I think it is a great compliment to us the way he [Pressley] set his team up today – to try and stop us, at home," McNamara said. "They had one striker. I said that to the lads at half-time, that they had changed their game plan. It is a great compliment to the way we are playing and doing things that he plays that system."
After seeing his side return to the top of the table with a 7-0 demolition of Airdrie United a week previously, it was no surprise that McNamara elected to start with the same line-up at Westfield, even if it did mean rare absences for captain Alan Archibald and midfielder Hugh Murray, available again after injury and suspension respectively.
The personnel may have been the same, but there was no repeat performance. The Jags saw plenty of the ball, but were not able to slice open a dogged Bairns rearguard in the manner they have done on a number of occasions this season. They did have chances, but it was to prove a rare goalless afternoon from the in-form Firhill side. An early Ross Forbes effort rose over the bar before Michael McGovern made smart stops from Sean Welsh and substitute Aaron Sinclair, on after Stuart Bannigan came off worst from a stiff challenge from Ryan McGeever. In between, Steven Craig fluffed his lines as he failed to connect with a neat through-ball from Chris Erskine.
It was a similar story for the Bairns, with poor passing too often bringing a premature end to their attacking forays. Midway through the first half, they should have taken the lead, but David Weatherston saw his shot blocked by Thistle keeper Scott Fox and then cleared off the line by Aaron Muirhead after the ball broke to him inside the area.
It was not the only time a Thistle centre-half had to resort to last-ditch defending to preserve Thistle's clean sheet as Conrad Balatoni denied the Bairns twice in quick succession, throwing himself in front of Stewart Murdoch's drive after Falkirk broke at pace and then found himself in the right place at the right time to clear off the line from the resulting corner.
As Thistle pushed forward, Falkirk became more dangerous on the break but still couldn't find a goal. Christie Elliot came close for the visitors as his near-post shot was saved, but when the Firhill forward and Darren Dods saw late headers miss the target, the points were shared.
"Partick are a good side and they are playing well," Pressley said. "I thought it was a very good performance from us. I am just disappointed we didn't win the game."