Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 27th Jul 2017

27/07/17: AJ - "We have to make sure that we put a bit of pressure on them because results haven`t gone their way

Manager Allan Johnston is looking forward to Saturday when he will take his team to Hearts, a club where spent six years between 1990 and 1996, scoring 12 goals in 84 appearances. Going there on the back of a 5-1 win over Peterhead in the Betfred Cup Group last Saturday is great preparation for meeting the Premier League club. He to the media:-

"It was obviously good to score so many goals. It is always good and it gives you confidence when you score a few goals. It was good for Declan McManus and Joe Cardle to score a couple and hopefully we can kick on.

"Peterhead are still very much in contention but we just have to look after ourselves. It is a difficult one because we probably only need a point at Tynecastle but it is hard to go there and just go for a point. We probably just have to set up as normal to try and win the game. It is a bonus I suppose if you need to rely on the draw."

A point would be enough for Dunfermline to top the Group on goal difference and the manager now feels looking back on the East Fife match had all their possession led to a victory then qualification for the next round would already have been secured:-

"We never managed to get the win and it just shows you how critical every game is."

The visit to Tynecastle will not be a typical one since their new Main Stand is still under construction but AJ was present for the friendly against Newcastle United and he feels that there is still a really good atmosphere despite only three stands being in use.

"I think that we are going to take a big support, I am sure that they will make a lot of noise. It has the makings of a really good game since Hearts have to go for it and need to get the win. Hopefully we can put in a really good performance and get what we require as well."

The Pars gaffer was surprised to hear that Peterhead had defeated Hearts 2-1 at the Balmoor Stadium on Tuesday night but remembers well from past experience that Peterhead is a hard place to go.

"McAllister is always a threat no matter who he is playing against, he always pops up and scores goals. We have been a bit more fortunate with our draw not to have Elgin and Peterhead away. They are not easy games."

But for Dunfermline Tynecastle has proven not to be a happy hunting ground. The last time Dunfermline won at Tynecastle was 27 matches ago, more than 27 years back when George O’Boyle and Ross Jack were on target as the Athletic triumphed 2-0 in February 1990. Coupled with a bad result on Tuesday maybe this is not the best time to be visiting Gorgie? AJ continued:-

"I am sure that they will be desperate to make amends for the result in midweek but we have to make sure that we keep the crowd quiet and get them on their backs. We need to get at them and cause them problems.

"We have goalscorers and we have a lot of boys who want to play at that level whether it is young players or experienced players. It is a great one to test yourselves against because Tynecastle is a great place to play.

"There is nothing better as a player playing in front of a good atmosphere and it is on live television as well so I`m sure that will give the players an extra spring in his step.

"I had a lot of good times there as a player, the stands are tight on top of you and the Main Stand is going to be amazing when it is finished, it is going to be some set up when it is finished.

"We have to make sure that we put a bit of pressure on them because results haven`t gone their way and Hearts are used to being up the top of the table and challenging at the top of the league so we have to make sure that we quieten the crowd."

Ahead of the final Group B match the Pars manager has concerns over player availability. He revealed that striker Nicky Clark saw a specialist on Thursday to see if he needed an operation on his ankle.

"Other than that everybody wants to play given its such a big game. David Hopkirk is near fitness he is running but not really done a lot of kicking the ball yet, that is the next stage but hopefully he will be back next week if everything goes to plan.

"There were trialists in but they are not here at present. We trying to get a couple of other ones on as well as we are still on the look out for players. It is quiet at the moment."

With Nicky Clark`s injury placing doubt on his selection Allan Johnston agreed that another striker is on his wanted list.

"We have been trying to bring in one for about the last seven or eight weeks but when you are trying to bring on players who are going to improve you it is difficult whether it is people on loan or people permanent.

"We want to try and bring in better players that are going to improve is as a squad. That is a difficult part."

Looking at the squad to solve the striker problems AJ was very complimentary towards his seventeen year old forward, Callum Smith:-

"Callum has been excellent pre season and I`m sure he gives us a bit of quality if we play him. He has got energy and has scored a lot of goals. There is no fear in playing him if we need to."

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