Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 4th Oct 2018

04/10/18: “It is a massive game for both clubs, they won at the weekend as well and will probably get a lift from that. But we will go there wanting to build on our last performance.

Manager Allan Johnston is looking for a confidence boosting victory over foot of the table, Falkirk on Saturday.

“When you are down there wins are hard to come by, the teams up above you keep on winning and it is difficult to catch up. Saturday’s is a massive game, we want to keep Falkirk down there, we want to have a gap between us and the teams at the bottom and be challenging at the top. It is a big game for a lot of reasons.

“The main focus for us is trying to keep up with the teams up above us. We are not going to be looking over our shoulders at the teams below us. We want to try and catch up on teams up above us. There is not a massive gap and if you can manage to put a couple of results together you would be up towards the top and then putting pressure on the teams there. That is where we want to be and I think we are more than capable of achieving that.

“We need to put a run of results together, especially wins. In this league wins are massive and if you can manage to put two, three or four runs in a row you are up there challenging. That has to be our aim and there is no reason why we cannot do that.”

AJ hopes that the 1-0 win over Partick Thistle is just the start of a good run and he was pleased with the performance against a strong Thistle team that included Premier League players who have played at a really good level over the last couple of years. The Pars frustrated Thistle for large periods of the game and that will be the objective at The Falkirk Stadium on Saturday:-

“It is a massive game for both clubs, they won at the weekend as well and will probably get a lift from that. It should be a good entertaining game but we will go there wanting to build on our last performance.

“We need to start catching the teams up above us and three points against Falkirk would certainly take us a lot closer.”

The manager has watched Falkirk a couple of times this season but he commented that he had seen different players each time:-

“They must have a big squad. They look as though they have improved, they are harder to beat and they look more solid. But we have to make sure that we go into it with the confidence and the quality that we showed against Partick and put them under pressure right from the start.

“They don’t come any bigger than a derby game. You know the fans are desperate to win, the players, everybody looks forward to when you get the fixtures out.

“We are all desperate to get there and get the result. Hopefully we take a big following that will get right behind the team. Things like getting results like places like Falkirk gives the players a lot of confidence and a bit of momentum.”

Early season momentum has been with Ayr United. They have won five out of seven, the most times in the Championship so far. AJ pointed out that one player with seventeen goals from 14 appearances has made all the difference for Ian McCall’s team:-

“Lawrence Shankland is scoring goals and he is exceptional. He has been the difference between the majority of teams but there is still a long way to go. We started the season well in previous campaigns and there are a lot of games still to be played.

“We just have to focus on ourselves and make sure that we go on a run to start propelling ourselves up that table.”

Tuesday’s reserve match against Dundee saw several first team players given an outing and a valuable run for Robbie Muirhead who scored twice towards the end of the first half. Allan said that the big man had not had a lot of game time when down in England.

“He missed the majority at MK Dons and so has not played a lot of games. He is still playing catch up but it is brilliant to see first team boys playing in the reserves. It is difficult putting in such good performance, scoring goals. I think it will give everybody a lift, especially the boys who are playing in front of them. They know that they need to perform because the other boys are doing well.”

Allan is pleased with the flexibility that the Reserve League gives:-

“You could not play first team boys every week in the reserves, every few weeks to top up their fitness otherwise it becomes monotonous for those who are not playing.

“You want their attitude to be spot on, you want to use reserve games when they need a bit of game time to catch up and make sure that they are ready to come into the first team. That is how we will use it but it is great when they put in performances like that. There attitude was different class.

“It is much better this season with some experienced players playing. That will bring on the younger players more and it ends up a better standard.”

Ryan Williamson also featured in the reserves ahead of joining up again with the Scotland under 21s and AJ said:-

“He has not have a lot of games since he get injured with Scotland so it was important to get him a bit of game time because he is picked for the Under 21s again. We want to make sure that he is fit, the last thing you want him to do is pick up another injury.

“It is a great opportunity for him. He really enjoyed the last time even though he was frustrated by not playing in the second game. He picked up an injury and it has taken a period of time just to calm down. Hopefully that is him fit now.

“The game against England is the one you want to play in. Ukraine is the first one, a difficult game and they will be a real challenge.”

Tom Beadling too, came through Tuesday’s reserve game and AJ said of him:-

“He has just got to keep progressing and building up his fitness because you saw how big a player he was for us last year.”

Giving an update on the injuries front, following surgery Kallum Higginbotham has progressed and is being held back since he is desperate to get back playing. He is working hard as is Lewis Martin. Sean Murdoch is also reported to be progressing slowly but the manager said “we will just have to wait and see how he goes.”

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