Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 29th Mar 2018

29/03/18: AJ - “Hopefully we are timing our run well and we can put a run of results together.

Allan Johnston reflected upon the 1-1 draw at Tannadice last time out and was disappointed that his side had relinquished their lead so softly:-

“Even though Lee Robinson was called into action with a couple of really good saves from free kicks I thought that we were the better team in the first half.

“We had good opportunities and got into good areas. We got the first goal with a good bit of play, a good build up and it looked as though at that point that there was only going to be one winner but obviously we shot ourselves in the foot by losing a goal so quickly.”

Nicky Clark had put the Pars ahead seven minutes into the second half only for United to get back on level terms four minutes later. The manager claimed that it was one like he had never seen in all his time playing football.

“I have never seen that happen. It is hard to explain sometimes but you move on and it sets us up for six big games. If you look at the fixtures we have a really good opportunity to try and get some wins.

“We could put pressure on the teams up above us. You just don’t know with results in this league, it is so tight that we just have to focus on ourselves.”

Saturday’s opponents Queen of the South arrive at East End Park one point behind Dunfermline and both sides have ambitions on a top four place. The Pars are only three points behind Morton in third and then there is Dundee United between them and even though they have two matches in hand, their current form would suggest they cannot count on points anywhere. The manager remembers how the Dumfries side hit five past them on their December visit:-

“The last time Queen of the South came here they scored a lot of goals. In their performances lately they have scored a lot of goals and creating a lot of chances but they are also conceding. Hopefully we tighten up at the back, make them defend and get the goals that we need.”

Saturday’s home match is followed by another at home against second place Livingston. Two crucial games in the context of a play off place but the manager is considering all six remaining league fixtures as an opportunity to go on a successful run that would take them into the top four.

“No disrespect to anybody but when you look at the teams that we are playing, we are as good as any of them. We just have to make sure that we are fully focused going into the games. We know what we need to do and the performances we need.”

Confidence has been restored with eight points taken from the last four games and five shut out in the last seven matches. The manager felt that shows on the pitch with players expressing them self more, taking more chances and creating more in the final third.

“Hopefully we are timing our run well and we can put a run of results together. You can see the confidence in the players and we just need to make sure that translates into three points.

“From our point of view the fans have stuck by the players and it makes a big difference when you have the fans on side. There are other clubs where that is not the same scenario. We are lucky and we have to make sure that we repay them with performances on the pitch.”

AJ would not be drawn by suggestion that three clubs were now fighting it out for the last two remaining play off places:-

“We have to focus on ourselves, get the results that we need and make sure that we get in that top four. We are not going to catch St Mirren, it will be difficult to catch Livingston because they are so far ahead now. But you never know in football.

“It is difficult for some of the teams who have games in hand. They are playing Saturday- midweek - Saturday and that is a lot. They have big squad as well and so i’m sure that they can rotate.

“It is about confidence at this stage of the season. Hopefully over the last three games we regained that and we are starting to play like we did at the start of the season. It is big one on Saturday, it would be great to get the three points.”

Nicky Clark has scored four goals in the last two matches but AJ warned that they cannot be dependent on him scoring them all.

“Everybody has to chip in, whether it is strikers, wide players. We have got to do more. We attack as a team and we defend as a team. That is what we are looking for.”

Joe Cardle will still be out with an ankle injury. Keeper Sean Murdoch has been to see a specialist and he is waiting to see what the next step is. Aaron Splaine is out with his leg break but Michael Paton is reported as being back in training.

Allan Johnston talked about a closed doors game played in midweek against Manchester United U20s.

“We put out a strong team including first team boys who maybe have not been playing in the last few weeks. I thought their attitude was brilliant with a couple of the younger ones as well.

“Albeit it was Manchester United Under 20s but there were a lot of top players, it was a really convincing performance and good to score a few goals. Andy Ryan got two, Fraser Aird scored two. They have certainly not done their chances any harm of playing.”

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