Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Hogmanay

Thursday, 31st Dec 2020

31/12/20: SC - “We have got to think about our movement, our passing, our crossing to hurt them in the final third as well.”

Stevie Crawford gave his final press conference of 2020 today and started by reflecting on taking four points from the final two league matches of the year:-

“When you see the result in midweek with Raith Rovers losing at home to Queen of the South, one that not many would have predicted, the Championship is competitive. It was pleasing to get that late winner against Arbroath and then going up to Inverness and building on that performance.

“I felt that we took the game to them in the first half. We created a number of goalscoring opportunities and Inverness did have a spell in the second half where they put us under the cosh but I felt that we finished the game strong when we introduced positive substitutions from the bench.

“We tried to win the game which is pleasing because it is never an easy place to go but again it shows the character of the boys that we put ourselves in a situation where we were trying to win the game and not just take a draw from it.”

The manager made four changes to his starting eleven on Tuesday night. Into the side came Aaron Comrie, Kerr McInroy, Kevin O’Hara and Lewis McCann. Steven Whittaker, Dom Thomas, Ryan Dow and Declan McManus dropped down to the bench. He explained:-

“By no means was it a case of trying to be clever, we had worked on a shape that we thought would cause Inverness problems. When you look at the schedule of what January is going to bring and the games that we have faced already, we are at a stage now where boys have played 14 or 15 games this season. After being out for as long I am just wary that catches up very quickly with us and try to utilise the squad.

“Boys have come off the bench and had an impact this season and the very pleasing thing for us was that boys who have had maybe limited game time started the game very well and has very good performances. If we are going to be successful it is very much going to be the same. There are different formations and different ways that we will set up and the opposition will set up. Everybody is giving themselves an opportunity to be selected in the starting eleven.”

Stevie is hoping that Saturday’s New Year derby against Raith Rovers can be another exciting match like the one played out four weeks ago at Starks Park:-

“It was a great advert for the Championship. I thought the Rovers edged it in the first half against us and we came into it in the second half. The game could have gone either way. It was great that both teams at that time were at the top end of the Championship. Now we find ourselves sitting in second and Dundee have managed to get in between us and Raith but again it is a game that we are looking forward to.”

While keen to secure three points to increase the advantage over the Kirkcaldy side to seven points Stevie pointed out:-

“It is not just the opposition that you are up against, it is about us taking care of ourselves and trying to give ourselves the best possible opportunity to win games of football. That was the pleasing thing from the Morton game where we suffered the first defeat of the season, to then bounce back against Arbroath who I thought were very good on the day as well.

“We managed to take three points against them last week and we are looking to get our home form up and running and continue the way that we have been for most of the season.”

In his post match comments on Tuesday night, Inverness Caley Thistle manager John Robertson described Dunfermline as ‘streetwise’ in how to take points from matches when they look destined to drop them. Stevie replied to this being pointed out to him:-

“I never heard or read it but it is nice to get compliments like that. Inverness will look at the game and see they had chances to win it as well. It was a good competitive game of football in not easy conditions. The two teams were having a go at each other, it wasn’t think a boring 0-0 game of football.

“If Robbo is speaking that way about us I think it shows that we are making baby steps in the right direction. You always say that if you can pick up points and never accept defeat. If you look back at the Morton game, I think I heard a few of my players saying that they thought that we were a wee bit gung ho towards the end trying to get the winner.

“But I have also said that there is a certain trait that you look for in a Dunfermline team playing at East End Park. We don’t want to sit back edging on the side of caution at home, we want to be having a go at teams. Against Arbroath we did have to defend certain situations, but because we were trying to win the game as well, we did find ourselves more open and exposed.

“Arbroath came down with two strikers with three playing in behind them so they were going to cause teams problems, and will continue to cause teams problems if that’s the shape that they are going to go with. It is a good sign when you get the never say die attitude. We have already picked up valuable points this season with that attitude.”

One such occasion was at Starks Park at the beginning of December when Dunfermline played Raith Rovers and gave them a two goal start.

“I never envisaged it the last time but I will say is that they have goals in their team. Duku has scored a number of goals but they also have boys chipping in from other areas.

“They have scored five goals on three occasions this season so they have attacking flair, they have good movement, a freedom to move and they work extremely hard to get back into their positions out of possession. So it is going to be a tough fixture, a tough game but we have got to cause Raith Rovers problems. We probably didn’t cause enough in the first half through at Starks Park and we have got to think about our movement, our passing, our crossing to hurt them in the final third as well.”

The match pits Stevie against John McGlynn who has now been able to return to the Rovers dugout and the Pars boss explained how he had a lot of time for his opposite number:-

“When I was coming towards the end of my playing days, before I signed at East Fife, John allowed me to go and train at Raith Rovers that pre season just to keep myself ticking over. I didn’t really know him then but he loves his football, he is passionate about it.

“I think he has done a terrific job at clubs that he has been at over the years, he spoke at the Pro Licence Course that I was on. Some of the things that he has done in his management career - the unseen things. His heart is in the right place. I know that he has been through a tough time and it is great to see that he is back in the dugout again.”

Player availability?

“Fraser Murray is fine and young Miller Fenton is back from going over on his ankle so we are looking good from that point of view. The only one missing at the moment is Lewis Martin. There are complications now with Lewis, it is very frustrating and it now comes down to the club looking after the well being of Lewis. He is finding it one step forward and two steps back at the moment. I don’t know the ins and outs or have the professional expertise to be commenting on that side of things.

“I have had conversations with Lewis just to make sure that mentally he is in a good place. We have been in touch with a specialist to see if we can get to the root of the problem. It is not great for Lewis, we are just making sure that we are here for him in his time of need.”

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