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Hamilton Acad 1 Falkirk 1: Perpetual works in progress for managerial duo

AS the rain lashed down and the wind howled through New Douglas Park, both Billy Reid and Steven Pressley could perhaps have been permitted a moment to bemoan their ill-fortune.

Lyle Taylor scored his eighth goal in four games
Lyle Taylor scored his eighth goal in four games

Their teams were engaged in a grim struggle, two sets of players with only a smattering of senior experience among them valiantly persisting to play passes as the elements and their own callowness continually conspired against them.

Even with the spotlight shining on the lower leagues, this was a contest played in the shadows, the prominence both managers once enjoyed lost amid a gradual slide down the Irn-Bru First Division. Some might consider it an assault on their vanity, but not these two.

Reid – who spurned the advances of Swansea City little over two years ago – spent much of the final 10 minutes pogoing around his technical area, beeseeching his Hamilton Academical side to push for a winner after Darian McKinnon drew them level; Pressley eschewed the shelter of the dug-out, too, as he cajoled and encouraged his remaining 10 Falkirk players to weather the storm whipped up in the aftermath of Jonny Flynn's dismissal.

It was a similar story afterwards, both managers talking with zeal about what they were trying to achieve at their respective clubs; the ongoing maturation of their players and the development of their teams. The league table only mentioned in passing.

Pressley was particularly piqued when conversation turned to Lyle Taylor, the striker who scored his 17th goal to edge Falkirk ahead.

Powerful, quick and skilful, the 22-year-old has scored eight times in five matches and will, surely, be attracting covetous glances this month, even if the player himself was unwilling to entertain such a prospect.

"I've heard nothing and I'm not interested in hearing anything," said the striker, who is contracted until the end of next term. "My agent's job is to make sure that is the case so I can focus on football. I'm not going to put pressure on anyone other than myself because the January window means nothing to me."

However, it is, as Pressley noted, an aggressive market and Falkirk are not in a position to reject offers. After all, selling a player might fund the running of the club for another season.

Taylor clearly appreciates his worth to the club both on and off the pitch, but is also erudite enough to realise Falkirk's worth to him. Amid the tittle-tattle, the striker offered a lengthy analysis of his improvement during what is, after all, his first six months as a full-time footballer. "The coaches told me if I focus on my link play the goals would come because it helps the team up the pitch. Details like that separate someone good from someone who is better."

That is what keeps coaches such as Pressley and Reid going once the circus of top-flight football leaves town; helping players become the best they can be and watching them move on to better things. Sure, they are sad to lose them but they understand the realities their status brings.

That is why these two refused to buckle to circumstance on Saturday.

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