Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Friday

Friday, 6th Dec 2019

06/12/19: SC - “It is about us concentrating on what we are trying to do and building on these four home wins.”

Manager Stevie Crawford has congratulated Kevin Nisbet on being awarded the Ladbrokes Championship Player of the Month for November calling it a great accolade for his player and the club. He discussed the positive effect leaving him out of his starting eleven at Tannadice on the last Saturday in October appeared to have:-

“It wasn’t necessarily dropping him because I was disappointed with Kevin with his performances but it was being fair to the squad. It wasn’t a case of ‘you are not doing the business’, it was a wee kick up the bum to show that nobody is guaranteed a game here.

“I think I said after the Dundee United performance, as much as I was disappointed in the result, I thought we were excellent in the second half. Kevin came on and added to the boys who had already started the second half well in a positive manner. That is all you can ask of your players, deal with disappointment but in the right way.”

Stevie feels that taking maximum points from the last two matches should not be underestimated and he is hoping to extend the success into Saturday’s home match against Morton.

“To come out of the Partick Thistle game and the Ayr United game with maximum points is no mean feat. I said after the game on Saturday, albeit Partick went down to ten men within five minutes, to score the penalty and come up against a team that sometimes have that mentality to feel that they have been a bit hard done by, it can be difficult to kick on with a performance but I thought the boys were excellent. They were clinical and there was a lot of energy about the team. To go in 4-0 at half time was the least that we deserved.

“Then we carried that into Tuesday night’s game against Ayr United, a very good side with good attacking players. We changed the shape a little bit so it was very pleasing that the players adapted and applied themselves properly in that formation as well.

“I actually felt, if you take away the last ten minutes of the game, that we created the better chances in the game - real goalscoring chances - at a place where it is difficult to score goals. Very pleasing.”

The winning goal at Ayr was converted by Kevin Nisbet midway through the second half but that then created the job of seeing the game out, something that taxed the tactics and nerves of the coaching staff for everyone of the remaining minutes:-

“There was continual communication between myself, Jason and Greg when Mark Kerr changed it to 4-4-2 and put the diamond in the middle of the park. We were getting a lot of joy playing four across the middle, Harry Cochrane was protecting the area behind it that Moffat likes to get into.

“They moved Stephen Kelly into that area about half an hour into the game and put Moffat out on the right. I was loathe to change the shape, it had been that good. That is not to say that it wouldn’t have been the right change but I just felt that we were set, coping with a lot of things. Other than Ayr United starting to go a little bit more direct and put us under pressure for that last five or ten minutes, we stood up to the task.

“It is an improvement, we were very disappointed earlier on in the season with the goal we lost at Morton deep into stoppage time and Cammy Gill has made a couple of great saves. That is what you have to do to come away with maximum points from these places.”

Taking nine points in the space of eight days would be a great achievement for the team, Stevie admitted:-

“I would have snapped somebody’s hand off if they had said that we would take nine points out of three games. That is not to say that I don’t think the team is capable of doing it.

“I have felt for a long time that there were games, without actually coming out saying it, that I thought we were going to take four or five goals off teams. There have been games where we have been vulnerable and looked off it at times but when you are working with younger players, a younger squad there are going to be bumps and bruises along the way.

“The pleasing thing is when we are getting bumps that we are showing there is a recovery and there are boys wanting to apply themselves in a manner that is allowing us to kick on again.

“What has happened from the Ayr United game, and the manner in which we won the game, it has brought a belief to us. Without getting too carried away I think that we have goals in the team. When you are talking to opposition management teams and coaches they think that we have got creativity.

“It is now getting the balance right, trying to stop goals at one end and creating the chances that allows us to win games.

“The boys have been fantastic in terms of attitude in preparation for the Partick game and it now sets it up for Morton on Saturday. That will be another tough one but one that certainly we have a right good chance of winning and taking all three points.”

The clear danger is that Morton have not won a league game away from home all season. Stevie knows that if you are a Morton player or the Morton management staff they will be wanting to rectify that as quickly as possible. He continued:-

“I have always said we have got to focus on ourselves while being respectful of who we are up against. That has to be the motivation for our players because if it was us and we were going somewhere else, rest assured that we would be going to try and get that monkey off our back as well.

“I played against Hoppy (David Hopkirk) as a player, I know what he is like. He has the experience at Livingston of knowing how to get results, he knows the league inside out so we will definitely be respectful of Morton coming here. It has always been a fixture when you look back Dunfermline v Morton is always a tough one.

“Maybe Dundee United are pulling away a little bit at the top of the league, other than that everyone is capable of beating everyone. Yes, we want to win the game. We will apply ourselves properly and give ourselves the best opportunity to win the game but it doesn’t mean because Morton haven’t won away from home this league season that we are just going to turn up on Saturday and take all three points.

“There is genuinely nothing in the league. We are looking now at, can we get into third position? It is not looking to get to the top of the league. I have always said that if we are sitting in sixth position we want to get into fifth. If we are sitting in eighth we want to get into seventh and it is not getting carried away.

“Morton will be no different. They will be looking to come and get three points here at the weekend, if they do they will be looking to jump up the league. That is how tight it is.

“They have boys like Chris Millar, Jim McAlister who have good experience and they know the league, Danny Roger in goal and McHugh is scoring goals for them so they will be a threat.

“It is about us concentrating on what we are trying to do and building on these four home wins.”

On player availability the Pars boss commented:-

“Lee Ashcroft needed stitches, there is a discussion that we will have to see where we are at in regards to it maybe opening up again. That is going to be the issue with that one. It is not the fact that Lee doesn’t want to play with the stitches, it comes down to the implications of what happens further down the line. Lee is not ruled out.

“Paul Paton’s calf is still playing up a little bit. Do we feel that we need Paul at the weekend or do we give him another couple off days to prepare for the run of games after that? A decision has to be made on that.

“Tom Lang unfortunately still has his thigh strain. Ryan Scully has been on the bike this week, he will be available for selection as it stands at the moment but if he feels an adverse effect we would have to go through the protocol again. Everyday has seen an improvement and as it stands yes, Sculls would be available for selection.

“Josh Coley has gone back to Norwich City, he has an issue with an injury so we have put him back down to Norwich as we did with Anthony McDonald to Hearts as the parent club. Anything in regards to the loan deal we have to make sure that we look after him and make sure that their parent club is happy. When Josh is sorted we will see him get back up to us.

“Anthony has trained with us and was on the bench on Tuesday night. Is he match fit as in ninety minute fit? No. It was not just a case of because he is on loan that we put him on the bench, it was genuinely because of the type of player that he is. He can cause problems in the final third. He is looking sharp in training it is just pushing to make sure that there is no reaction to the injury problem that he had.

“Euan Murray has been training all week with us, non contact. He is a floater in games or a sideman but he has been away the last couple of days doing some heading work which is pleasing because he has not had any reaction to it. Again he is making the baby steps but that is pleasing because the last six weeks have been very frustrating for him. It is great for him because I am on record as saying, he is the type that we want here.

“Euan would sit and try and say that he is ready for the weekend, which isn’t a bad thing. Having spoken to Kevin Bain, we are talking about a January return.”

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