Manager on ThursdayThursday, 7th Nov 2019
07/11/19: SC - “Alloa is not an easy place to go at the best of times but we will go there in buoyant mood.
Reward for taking six points in five days was Monday off revealed Stevie Crawford:-
“It is always good when you have a midweek fixture to come away with six points from the two home games. We felt that was right to give them the day off because a lot of the boys had been asked to go again, play with knocks and bruises. They have come back and worked very hard as well.
“It is pleasing that we have won three games on the bounce at East End and it is a matter now of carrying that form into the Alloa game.”
After taking just two points from the first five league games, Dunfermline have now taken fourteen points from their last seven and that has come in a run with only one defeat. SC continued:-
“When I look back some people from outwith maybe got carried away after our Celtic game thinking that would automatically come to fruition in the league games. I think it was very difficult to judge the team after five or six games because there was a lot of gelling required given the turnover of players.
“I think now what we are seeing is the boys getting to know each other as people as well. That has been the pleasing thing from the victories.
“When we have been on top in games the boys have given themselves a platform and not got too carried away trying to chase to get that goal to put them in front. Teams might have nicked a goal earlier in the season and we would have had an uphill battle but I think there is a level to our performance that is holding us well to go and pick up points.”
Having recently said that there might not be room in every match for all four of the attacking force comprising Ryan Dow, Andy Ryan, Kevin Nisbet and Greg Kiltie, the manager described the difficult scenario that creates:-
“Andy Ryan has given me the headache and Kevin Nisbet missed out up at Dundee United. He came on and did well so we had the four of them start against Arbroath. The headache was big enough to make me start them again.
“Alloa will be a different game on a different surface. We will work throughout the week and pick the right team that we think is going to win the game. The one thing that is pleasing is, as I said after the game on Saturday, Ashy actually dealt with Stephen Dobbie to win the ball. He was aggressive with it in the right way.
“It was actually a calculated clearance where he lifted it over the top. We had spoken about that rather than trying to play nice wee passes through where we get done on the counterattack ourselves.
“You are seeing things like that and then Greg Kiltie shows his quality to then get control of the ball, turn inside and Ryan Dow has the freedom to go and move into positions where he feels that he can hurt teams. He nips in front of the defender and puts it by the goalkeeper. There were a lot of pleasing things from play where they were giving a freedom as well.”
Above: Greg Kiltie and Scott Mercer
Despite the success there were still games within that last seven league games where Stevie felt things have gone against them but he observed that probably every manager will tell you the same.
“The thing that players sometimes don’t get credit for is when you are going through that wee bad run, things aren’t working, you are not working hard enough, teams are working harder - I think the players continued to give us what they could. They were giving one hundred per cent and they kept a belief.
“When players come back from injury and there is competition for places it always brings that extra wee spark. The confidence from the Ayr United game where we came from behind to win has been a massive boost in confidence.”
Such is the luxury of selection regulars from last season like Danny Devine and Tom Beadling have found themselves on the subs bench and Stevie expanded upon how he had spoken to Stuart Morrison:-
“For a young player his attitude for everything in training is fantastic. I usually don’t talk to players that I am possibly leaving out the bench but I always like to talk to a player if he has started the previous game - through respect I always like to explain the reason that I am not playing him before I turn over the sheet and tell them in the dressing room.
“With Stuart it was different. Last Tuesday I thought that it was right to tell him that he wasn’t going to be in the eighteen. Then he sees young Miller Fenton getting on the bench but Miller was there because he has been doing well and he gives us that balance down the left hand side.
“It is not necessarily people missing out because they are not doing well, it is what is right to win a game of football or having the right balance to make the right substitutions.
“Again that goes back to your man management, how we speak to the players when they are out. They have got to feel valued, if the frustration becomes too much and they are not enjoying their football at the club then that is something that you deal with in January or you deal with in the summer but these guys have a big part in helping us move forward.”
Above: Joe Thomson on his comeback v Celtic Reserves
Choice will expand again with the expected return of Joe Thomson, Stevie added:-
“Joe came through ninety minutes in the reserves on Tuesday so he will definitely be in the squad for the weekend. Again it makes it harder when you have won your last two games but it is a problem that you want as a manager, it can only hold us well.”
Giving an update on injuries, SC confirmed that Tom Lang has joined in full training sessions this week as did Lewis McCann and Matty Todd. Matty Todd was given an injection in his ankle last Monday which has allowed him to get over the hurdle that was preventing his return but this weekend will be a bit to soon for Matty to be in the squad. Stevie expanded:-
“The fact that it was a hamstring injury Tom will need a game next week and Lewis McCann is the only one with a realistic chance of being in or around the squad at the weekend.
“Everybody is fit after last week so that is pleasing. Last Saturday was the first time as a staff that we were able to put out the same eleven and have the same bench. Just because we are on this run at the moment are we going to go with the same again? We are in a good place at the moment.”
One young player still not available however is Anthony McDonald. On 30th August Anthony was signed on loan from Hearts until the end of the season but a back injury has prevented him as yet arriving at Dunfermline. SC commented:-
“I have not had a discussion with anybody at Hearts, they are in an interim period. Whenever a new manager comes in no doubt that will be a conversation that I have with him.
“Anthony McDonald, like any loan player we allow Hearts medical staff to look after him. At this stage until he is one hundred per cent right, he will continue to be seen by the medical staff there.
“Kevin Bain will be in contact and the minute they are happy and think all the aches and pains and problems with his back he will be able to start training again. That is when we will get Anthony McDonald back here at Dunfermline challenging for a starting place.”
Above: Stevie Crawford welcomed Anthony McDonald in August
So going into a match against Alloa Athletic for the third time this season, the Pars gaffer said:-
“We went there last season and beat them. Their next game at Alloa after playing us they beat Dundee United so we know that they are a good football side. We will come up with a game plan to deal with that and concentrate on what we are good at and not get carried away.
“When you look at the league anybody can beat anybody as every manager will agree. It is great that we are playing with a bit of confidence and on a good run having lost just one in seven.
“The minute you start thinking that it is only a matter of turning up at games it is dangerous. You can’t go into any games saying we are definitely going to pick up points. The challenge to our boys is that we have shown that we are on a good run of form and to keep that run going as long as possible.
“Alloa is not an easy place to go at the best of times but we will go there in buoyant mood. I am sure that if we can match their enthusiasm and effort we can go there and win the game.”
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