Dunfermline Athletic

Manager Previews Peterhead

Thursday, 9th Mar 2023

09/03/23: JMc - “These are the games after a big midweek game with a big atmosphere that you need to hope that your players are bang on it.

Before talking about Saturday’s trip to Peterhead, manager James McPake stressed that victories such as that on Tuesday night over Falkirk have to be enjoyed.

Savour the result

“I’m keen to stress that as much as we keep saying that we just focus on the next game, it is important that we enjoy those moments. It was a great night for us in terms of the crowd that we had in and the performance meant that we were worthy winners on the night.

“You have got to enjoy those moments whether it is the first game of the season, last game of the season or the start of March. This game has a habit of kicking you and making you sore. It happens more often than feelings like that.

“Nowadays you have to enjoy the half hour that you get in the dressing room afterwards or when they are getting food in the dining room. They have got to enjoy those moments. That’s the first time that I have experienced it here in front of a crowd like that. It gives you that extra drive to keep working, work even harder, do even more, what more can we do to get this place like that more consistently. When it is like that it is a hell of an atmosphere, it was great, great to coach in and I was jealous that I wasn’t playing in it.

“The crowd was there for that group of players, the excitement that is around the place is down to that group of players so they had to enjoy it. On the pitch it felt like a huge win just with the atmosphere and the amount of fans that were in. By the time we had them in the dressing room it was just enjoy this.

“As much as you don’t want to, because you want keep that feeling as long as you can, for me unfortunately it took about a minute and then I was thinking ‘we are away to Peterhead on Saturday which is a tough game’. You then try and turn it round.

Two Giants in League One

“Even the first fixture against Falkirk when they came here early in the season, it wasn’t as big a crowd as that but the atmosphere was great. Again at The Falkirk Stadium the atmosphere was great, then look at that the other night. It had a bit of a build up, we want that, because there was a lot going on around the game in terms of social media, newspapers and fans from both sides having a go and just getting really excited. It felt like a really big game from the outside.

“Now internally of course we were just trying to play it down. I’m sure John (McGlynn) and his staff at Falkirk would have been doing the same because we are in March. It was just a case of let’s go and try and get the three points. When you see a crowd like that in the third tier of Scottish football, it is a great advert for this league and in my opinion a great advert for both football clubs.

“They brought 2500 and I think we took the same to them. Their stadium was sold out with home fans when we went there as well. The reality is both clubs are where they are for a reason. We have no right, they have no right to be in the league above or the Premiership.

“We would love to be doing pre match or post match for that game as two Premiership clubs but there are thirty other clubs who would love to be in the Premiership as well. You need to earn that right and you just need to keep fighting for three points. Thankfully we did that.

“It was a great advert for our football club, I can’t speak for Falkirk I’m sure they weren’t happy with the result but in terms of what they brought that is fantastic. It is great for a club to come with such a big away crowd. We did it there but for us to have that crowd here - the biggest for a decade, the biggest since Rangers were in League One - that’s a lot of credit to the players and a lot of credit to the people at this club for the way it is going after such a setback last season.

“It hurt and you could still see that when we came in, there were people hurting and not just the players but staff members who at some point were worrying about what was happening as well. Everybody has rallied and we are in a good place at the minute. It is not being greedy, I want that all the time out there, we want as many out there as we can.

“It is a tough enough place to come. I have brought teams here and they have always found it tough but it is even tougher when you have a crowd like that.”

16 League Clean Sheets

“It is a great record the team has got and Deniz as the goalkeeper deserves a lot of credit. There have been games where we have been winning comfortably and he has made some great stops late on. They have a real fear of conceding goals this team.

“When you are a manager you ask for that, it is simple - you don’t want to concede and you want to score but you need the players to be really working. You saw that on Saturday with the block Benedictus had with a couple of minutes to go. At 2-0 you could maybe think that the game was won, we were really comfortable and we were moving the ball about.

“We are proud of that record at the minute. Of course we want to add to it. You always go into games wanting a clean sheet and a good performance, if you get those two right then you normally get the third along with it which is scoring and getting the win. We are proud of it and we will keep working on it because something is going alright.”

Players Availability

James confirmed that after missing the Alloa game Josh Edwards came through the Falkirk game fine. Joe Chalmers has a rib problem but he should be fine for Saturday. He incurred the injury on Saturday and then took another knock to it against Falkirk but still finished the game. James continued:-

“Aaron’s wound is looking good. There is still a risk of infection when it is still weeping a little bit. Aaron will most likely miss this weekend again and then we will pick him up Monday or Tuesday next week to see how he is doing. Everybody else is good.”

Chris Hamilton required the physio’s attention on Tuesday night but his manager dismissed any fitness doubts, joking:-

“Hammy needs treatment every week, we are going to start fining him or whatever. He puts himself in horrible positions, he takes hits and it is a job that is overlooked at times - breaking up play. We sometimes look at how well people play football and move the ball about. Hammy can do that but there is another side to his game which is the reason that he picks the knocks up. You need those players in your team, he was excellent again.”

After such a successful result on Tuesday everyone knows that won’t stop the manager changing a winning team.

“I think you know that by now. We have had one league loss all season and I wouldn’t like to count how many changes that we have made when they have not even been forced. That’s what the squad is for. Kevin (O’Hara) made an impact on Tuesday. He came on Saturday and got his goal but I thought that he was excellent when he came on Tuesday.

“Lewis (McCann) made a big impact and Paul McGowan is now starting to get the minutes up as well. That’s not even considering Ewan Otoo who was Man of the Match here last Saturday and didn’t play during the week. Todorov was back in the squad and doesn’t get on. Wee Robbie (Mahon) who I feel for, I really do, he gets on, does great, he starts does great and then finds himself back out of the team.

“Kane (Ritchie-Hosler) is the example. He came in started a couple of games but was taken back out. Now he is back in and looking great. We will assess it and get everything in the tombola later and pick a team!”

Peterhead’s Challenge

Those who made the trip to the Balmoor Stadium in November will not have forgotten the awful weather but whatever comes this weekend, James said:-

“I will take the same result and same performance as well. It is always a tough place to go. I had a Premiership team up there about this time last year and we found it really tough that night.

“We were pretty comfortable when we went up earlier in the season on a tough day for both teams with the wind. That’s what happens up at Peterhead, you just need to go up and pick the best team that you think can do a job. I’m sure that if the bus can get through we will be okay. I just hope the weather is okay, we want the game to go ahead, they will want the game to go ahead with it being a Saturday with a half decent away crowd travelling.”

Falkirk’s Scottish Cup involvement means Dunfermline have an opportunity to go eleven points clear with a win on Saturday but James was not keen to look even that far ahead:-

“The gap is what it is. The only thing that we can affect is going up to Peterhead and winning that game. It is a weekend where we know Falkirk have got other business, they are not playing in the league so it is the one weekend that you know exactly where you will be if you win the game, draw or get beat.

“It is a big gap but if it’s eleven on Saturday I’m sure that I will not be comfortable with it being that, I want it to be more. You are always trying to pull away. It was from Edinburgh for a while, now it’s Falkirk. Obviously they would have a game in hand but it is a big gap. If we start looking at quarter to five on a Saturday that’s when you can come unstuck.

“We saw it here two up with five minutes to play and Peterhead scored two goals. That was on me that day with daft subs, not the players but wrong changes at the wrong time from me that day. We need to focus on Peterhead until ten to five and we will have a look at the table afterwards.

“We can’t take this game lightly. Thankfully away from home in particular when we have played teams, we do seem to turn up and I have enough belief in that group that we will not take anyone in this league lightly. If they don’t then that will come back to bite us because any team can beat anybody.

“Peterhead for an hour were in the game at Falkirk. I know the scoreline maybe doesn’t reflect that but they were a tough nut to crack at Falkirk and as we have seen Falkirk, alongside Edinburgh, have scored a lot of goals in this league. They are very potent and Peterhead were good on the day so we need to be bang at it. These are the games after a big midweek game with a big atmosphere that you need to hope that your players are bang on it. From that group I have no question that they will be.”

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