Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 10th Nov 2016

10/11/16: AJ - "Winning the game on Saturday would give us a massive boost ....

Manager Allan Johnston is keen to register a win over Dundee United at what will be his team`s fourth attempt of the season. The prize, a place in the semi final of the Irn Bru Cup and he feels that the Pars are due a result.

"It`s typical the way the fixtures fall. Playing against the same teams week in week out we will play Dundee United at least six times this season. I think that is far too much. Surely we could make the leagues a wee bit bigger so there is different opposition for the fans to watch rather than the same teams.

"It is a big game, we still want to do well and get into a semi final. We have to win the game but we know it will be difficult. Obviously the games against Dundee United, especially the last two have been really close. There is not much between the teams as Tuesday night proved again.

"We made it difficult for ourselves. It was probably a challenge that Nat (Wedderburn) didn`t need to make. It was a crazy challenge and knowing Nat, that is not the kind of player he is. He said he slipped and his foot went away so it probably looked a lot worse than it was. Still you can see why the referee has given the red card.

"The performance was pleasing and especially the way we have defended in the last couple of weeks, we have looked a lot more solid. Teams are working a lot harder to score against us compared to the start of the season when we were maybe just a bit too open. That is something that we have had to learn.

"We still need to turn performances into results and into wins. The midfield and strikers too, have worked really hard in the last couple of games. If you keep working as hard as that your luck is going to change. I don`t think they have had a lot of luck, we were bit unfortunate but sometimes you have to work even harder to turn it around.

"Against Raith Rovers I thought we were the better team and against Dundee United we still had chances even with ten men. We broke on them three v one in the second half but we didn`t finish. There were a couple of other good opportunities when Nicky had good shots and Higginbotham had a shot as well.

"There was a lot of good stuff even when we were down to ten and possibly the best part was restricting them to long range shots."

The manager will miss Nat Wedderburn with a two match suspension and so will be forced to change a line up that has started the last two matches. He claimed that he wanted everyone fit for the upcoming league games while accepting "it is a chance to have a look at a couple of other boys as well."

On the injury front Ben Richards-Everton, David Hopkirk and Gavin Reilly will definitely miss the cup tie. Euan Spark is back running again after incurring injury in the Development League match at Falkirk but will not be ready for consideration this weekend. Ryan Williamson pulled out in the warm up on Tuesday and it seems unlikely that he will be fit for Saturday.

"There are a few missing but we have a big squad and I still think that we have enough players capable of putting a quality team on the park and doing well."

AJ felt that Gavin Reilly has been a bit unfortunate with his spell at Dunfermline since coming on a season long loan from Hearts:-

"Gav will score goals he has just been unfortunate with the team not doing well, it is difficult for the strikers. He has scored before in the Championship and I`m sure when he comes back that he will be firing on all cylinders again."

Given the league programme and league position the manager said that they were not going to take their eye off the ball.

"We are not going to take chances with people and play them if they are feeling anything at all. There are boys who have not played a lot of football and maybe they have played in the last two games.

"We just need to be careful and make sure that they are 100% alright because we need a fully fit squad for the remainder of the games coming up. There is no point picking up injuries this week that would cost us in the long term.

"Winning the game on Saturday would give us a massive boost, getting to a semi final, especially with so many important games coming up."

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