Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 31st Oct 2019

31/10/19: SC - “We are sitting level on points with them and the reality is if we win we stay above them in the league.

Results went Dunfermline’s way on Tuesday night and Stevie Crawford is now targeting improving on the sixth place they now find themselves one. It is the team’s highest position since drawing with this Saturday’s opponents, Queen of the South, in mid August.

“We are sitting just below Arbroath now and, giving Queen of the South the respect they are due, if we win the game we have the possibility now to jump above Arbroath depending on how results go elsewhere. It is not a simple as that though.

“Tuesday night brought its own problems. It was a physical first half but we managed to go in at 0-0 and then started the game brighter in the second half. When it opened up we showed our qualities in front of goal and then could have won by more goals.”

The goals against Arbroath both came from Kevin Nisbet who claimed that with attacking force including himself, Andy Ryan, Greg Kiltie and Ryan Dow they are good enough to trouble any team in the league. SC agreed that it is all about hitting the right blend with these players.

“There are different ways of playing, they all have their strengths in different areas and they have different ways of playing. I don’t think you could say that all four play in a similar manner. You could see that during the course of the game.

“Harry Cochrane missed out on starting against Arbroath because I wanted a bit more balance with Kyle Turner breaking forward and Paul Paton being the sitter. It wasn’t necessarily down to Harry’s form that he was left out on Tuesday night.

“ In the second half we ended up putting Greg Kiltie in one when we changed him and Andy Ryan. Andy had done well for the goal, but he had taken an early knock on his arm so it wasn’t his performance levels that we were disappointed in. Kyle went out to the left hand side and brought creativity coming in on his right foot. Greg Kiltie now started getting in behind on the half turn to link up with Nizzy. That is pleasing.

“I was an attacking player myself. If you have that creativity round about you and boys are getting the ball to you, then you have the quality to do good things in this league.

“It will not be in every game that we decide to play all four. I have to become very careful in the way I manage the players. We have to consider the opposition that we are up against. Are we using the right players in the right areas of the pitch? Do we need to be stronger in different areas?

“That is the challenge of management. They are causing me a headache now because the reality is that I think all four of them deserve to be playing in the team. It is trying to fit them in while maintaining the right balance to win a game of football.”

It was a tough opening away match going down to face Queen of the South in August and Stevie recalled:-

“We started well, Kyle Turner scored a very good goal and we had chances to go 2-0 up. We never took them and in the second half Queens probably started the better team of the two teams.

“We are sitting level on points with them and the reality is if we win we stay above them in the league. That has got to be the carrot that our boys look at.”

As Queen of the South manager a second time around Allan Johnston will return to his old club and he brings with him a one time Pars fans favourite, Stevie continued:-

“Allan had a successful period as manager here. He has gone back to Queens where he had a very successful period, he knows the club really well and I’m sure that he will do well there.

“It was difficult for Faiss (El Bakhtaoui) coming back last year in terms of his goals return but by all accounts he has settled in well down at Queens now. We know what he can do and what he can’t do. He is a great boy off the pitch, I can’t speak highly enough about him but when it goes to the battle on Saturday we will want to put one over on him.”

Through personal experiences the Pars manager warned against going back to a former club:-

“It can become dangerous if you are going there trying to prove a point in football. It is very much about being focused on the job in hand.”

“In recent years when you mention Queen of the South the first thing people talk about is Stephen Dobbie. He has played at the highest level, he has played in the Premiership in England. Yes he could possibly be coming to the end of his career in terms of what he has left in him but we have to make sure that we are aware of his cleverness, movement, link play and his eye for goal.

“When I listened to an interview that Stephen gave a couple of weeks ago he felt that Queen of the South were starting to gel. They are not conceding a lot of goals. He was talking about Faiss and Jack Hamilton playing upfront getting to know each other’s games. Gary Oliver went there in the summer as well so they are certainly not a one man team but he does possess a lot of good qualities.”

Turning to his own players availability Stevie said that some of his players were still recovering from “aches and pains” after the Arbroath match but for tactical reasons did not wish to say anything further on that.

“Joe Thomson came through 70 minutes of a bounce game last night which is really pleasing. We will look at getting him a 90 minute game against Dundee United in the reserves on Tuesday and stick to the plan.

“It is great where he is at but having spoken to Kevin (Bain) and John (Porteous) we have just not to push him too early. We wanted him to get 45 minutes, then something over the hour and then a ninety minute under his belt. Possibly then we are looking at him having been involved in first team training for three weeks. We will see where we are at after next Tuesday with him.”

Tom Lang (pictured below) is working hard to come back from his hamstring injury and is now doing acceleration and deceleration work. He has come through that well and is expected to be back into full training come next Monday.

Stevie was pleased that his central defender Lewis Martin was willing to put his neck on the line to play against Arbroath following his injury at Tannadice just three days previously.

“Was he fully fit? Probably not but at times you have to find that determination. Danny Devine had come on and done very well in the second half against Dundee United but I felt it was only right to be loyal to Lewis Martin because we have done well in recent games in terms of picking up points. He declared himself fit. He came in with Kevin at four o’clock before the game and he wanted to give it a proper go. The pleasing thing on that side of things was coming off with a clean sheet.

“Lewis has shown maturity in not wanting to give up that jersey. I have said it before, that is what we want from all the players here. It sometimes works for you, sometimes can go against you but credit to him.”

The clean sheet on Tuesday was also a birthday present for the returning Ryan Scully. SC commented:-

“Cammy Gill was disappointed with the two goals we lost against Dundee United. In the lead up to the first one, collectively as a team could we have helped him. It wasn’t scored directly from the first cross.

“I have looked back at the two spells where Ryan started the season, Cammy then found himself in for seven games. He can be happy that he has come in and shown that he has got the capabilities. The one thing that Cammy has not got is first team experience of being out on loan anywhere.

“That is not through any fault of his own. Cammy has now shown for a number of games that he can do a job but we felt that it was right to bring Ryan in on Tuesday to give us that but more experience and try to kick us on.”

Euan Murray is two weeks away from the re-assessment of his injury.

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