Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 24th Oct 2019

24/10/19: SC - “It is knowing what we are capable of doing and making sure that we focus on ourselves ...

Two former Dundee United players know what it takes to dig out results and Stevie Crawford hopes they can help Dunfermline to their second away win of this season. Ryan Dow and Paul Paton both collected battle scars in Saturday’s win over Ayr United but according to the manager that just demonstrates their fighting spirits. He said:-

“On Saturday they both got head wounds. Paul Paton probably came back earlier than he should but he is an experienced pro and he knows his body. He wanted to put his neck on the line.”

Paul returned after missing the matches against Alloa Athletic and Morton while Ryan had missed three games before those. SC continued:-

“Ryan Dow, it is unfortunate but he is going to take a little bit of time still. They are that little bit older they can man manage their bodies. I am not saying that they are playing within themselves but there is not a freedom where they are not feeling aches.

“They have come right back in and stabilised us and allowed us to put this wee run together. They are massively important and when the important game gets to that ugly side of it, they know what it takes to go and dig a result out.”

Looking back on Saturday, Stevie had to start with the spectacular goal scored by central defender, Lee Ashcroft.

“Big Ashy is not going to score a goal like that again. The response that I have had in terms of taking the captaincy off him, I think it is great that he has taken that in a positive light. For as much as Pates is the captain, big Ashy is his vice skipper, he can lead and he still has a responsibility to the group.”

A video clip of the strike was tweeted by the club and was subsequently retweeted by the Spanish Sports Center ESPN saying ‘A great goal to Zidane! Lee Ashcroft of the Dunfermline scored volleyball in Scotland just like Zizou did in the 2002 Champions League final, in the same country ...’. Stevie commented:-

“It was mentioned to me about it going viral. Somebody mentioned it to me tongue in cheek about its likeness to Zidane’s goal at Hampden.”

The manager could not say what banter that had generated from his team mates:-

“The dressing room is not somewhere I go to now. You sometimes have to distance yourself, probably Greg and Jason will be more in the know of something like that but I imagine he will be coming in for a little bit of stick.

“Ashy’s finishing last week believe it or not, was very good. Sometimes defenders like to join in as well at the end of a session. He scored a few goals last week, none like Saturday’s but I can’t say it was out of the blue given the way he was finishing in training last week. It was a goal worthy of winning a game of football. I know that it wasn’t the actual winner but it was the goal that was worthy of winning a game.”

Reactions of other players had however caught Stevie’s eye at the time:-

“Josh Coley was a strange reaction because he didn’t know whether to go and celebrate or go and try to get the ball back. It was that surreal moment where you wonder ‘did he just do that?’

“It brings a feel good factor, the feeling that I want for people going away from East End with. Credit has to go to Ayr United. I thought that they played the game in a very attack minded manner. Obviously it is pleasing for us that we got the three points but it was a good advert for the Scottish Championship.”

Three really good goals from Dunfermline each with something to please the manager, he added:-

“The first goal itself is where I want more composure in and around the box because it asked defenders questions. We have not had the rub of the green in terms of winning penalty kicks yet. If you can get the ball in that area of the pitch sometimes you can ask defenders questions where they come up with the wrong answers.

“The inter play and combinations is something that we are seeing every day with these players the longer they are working together. To see that come off wasn’t just lucky on the day, it was good play where they are aware of each other’s movement and the composure to walk round the keeper and finish it.

“The second goal we spoke about from Ashy but the third goal we tried to peel off the centre backs down the side. Andy Ryan’s run was very pleasing. Ryan Dow wins it higher up the park, Greg Kiltie has composure to play the weighted pass through. The other thing is that the strikers or attacking midfielders work on it, we try and mirror that they are working both sides.

“Andy Ryan took it on his right hand side, would he normally come in and try to it on his left foot? Possibly, he had confidence to strike it with right foot. From a very tight angle it was a really well taken goal, I was delighted for him.

“He sees the goal, he sees the goalkeeper and your next thought is the weight of the pass from Greg Kiltie. It is a great pass and you are thinking ‘if my first touch is good here, I’m getting my strike away’.

“You know the defender is trying to get back but because the pass takes him out and the touch is good you are now just thinking connection on the ball. That thought process with Andy Ryan might be totally different but it is something I can relate to as a striker.

“We had worked on winning the ball, peeling off the centre back, the weighted pass through, your first touch, shooting across the goalkeeper so even if the keeper gets a touch on it with his hand somebody should be following in. It is not just the technical ability and being able to take the ball at his feet, it is the whole process of the move itself is very pleasing.”

There is no doubt that Andy Ryan is doing all he can do to claim a place in the starting eleven and SC continued:-

“Andy Ryan came on and was very positive against Morton, he came on again against Ayr very positive. It gives me a headache for all the right reasons. I have no personal vendettas with anybody at the club. We feel that if there is somebody on form and deserving a chance, they will get their chance.”

Whether Andy gets his chance against league leaders Dundee United remains to be seen but Stevie added:-

“They lost their last two games against Queen of the South and Alloa, both on AstroTurf, so has that had an impact? Their home form has been very good but it is not to say that we cannot go up there and get a result.

“I hate the word complacency, we have got to go up there to play a well organised Dundee United who will be hurting and looking to kick start their season again. We have to be wary of that, we have to make sure that we are up for that.

“I didn’t think we started the game well against them last time. That is something that we can try and address. We have to go about our game plan fully focused, knowing that every man has to pull his weight to try and win this game of football.

“There is no reason that we can’t go up there and win the game. Equally we have no divine right to go up there and think that we can take points off Dundee United.

Last time at Tannadice was a 1-0 defeat in Stevie’s first game in charge of the team.

“I thought it was a very good performance that day without causing them too many problems in front of goal. We competed, did we deserve to lose the game? I don’t think so, it was a moment of lapse where a few of us turned our backs on a quick free kick and Nicky Clark nipped in with a header.

“It is knowing what we are capable of doing and making sure that we focus on ourselves. In their last home game they won 6-0 against Morton so they will be confident when they are playing at Tannadice. We need to make sure that we go up there, give them the respect but also let them know that they are in for a game.”

Everyone knows the threat created by Lawrence Shankland and how he grabbed a victory out of the jaws of defeat with a late late double against Arbroath. Dunfermline will be well aware of the danger of the striker:-

“Lawrence Shankland will be brimming with confidence having been away the Scotland squad. He will have taken a lift from being involved in that environment. Do we make this game about Lawrence Shankland or do we focus on what we have been bringing to the table in the last four games?

“We were hurting after the Dundee United performance, I felt the boys knew that they had not done themselves justice. We cannot guarantee that we will go up there and win a game but we have to go up there and go head to head with them better than we did at East End in the first game. That is all we can ask.”

On the injury front Joe Thomson returned to action this week playing the first half of the match against Celtic in Tuesday’s Reserve Cup match. Tom Lang has done a little bit of running with physios Kevin and John but is nowhere near selection for the weekend. Otherwise the manager closed:-
“But we’ve not picked up anything from last week’s game so everybody that was available last week will be available this week.”

Stevie gave his reaction to the Scottish Cup Third Round draw that saw his side drawn away to Stranraer:-

“In cup games you want to be playing at East End Park, so it’s a tough one. Stranraer is never an easy place to go, I’ve played there a few times in my career. You’ve got to make sure you’re fully focused and go there with a mindset that it’s going to be a tough afternoon.

“But if we’re going to progress, that’s the joy of the Scottish Cup; you go to places like that and hopefully go there and win the game and progress in the tournament. It will be a tough 90 minutes, for sure, and one in which Stranraer will fancy their chances as well.”

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