Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 12th Mar 2020

12/03/20: “ I have not played behind close doors, it is not something that I have faced but if that is the route that we go down then we just have just got to try and apply ourselves properly.

Speaking to the media this lunchtime Dunfermline boss Stevie Crawford praised the character of his players shown in recent league matches. He agreed that the late equaliser at Partick on Tuesday night was a bit of sickener:-

“It was but as I said after the game we were very fortunate to be drawing the game at half-time. Again it was no criticism of the players in terms of their effort and application. The one thing that we didn’t do on Tuesday was get our wide players into the game and cause Partick bother down the sides. We had to deal with an overload in the middle of the park which I thought gave them (an advantage). They were able to get on the ball in areas to hurt us.

“We addressed that at half-time and fair play to the boys because to get in at nothing each, it gave us an opportunity to change it at half-time and match Patrick Thistle up. I thought we came into the game more and ended up scoring a good goal from a set to play.

“We were disappointed to lose the goal in the manner we did towards the end of the game. Graham at one point wasn’t actually looking where the ball was but you cannot control decisions that are made by officials. We have just got to very much focus on the eight games that are coming up.”

Stevie has said regularly ever since the opening league match that decisions even themselves up in the course of a season. Unfortunately goal-line decisions in the home games against Inverness and Queen of the South didn’t stop the trend. SC is concerned because the frustration can lead into the playing squad.

“They were bitterly disappointed because three points would have had us closer to those play-off positions. I am a firm believer that there is no point crying over spilt milk, you just have to get on with it.

“As I say even looking back at it, Graham when the ball leaves Coles’ foot looks as if he is offside as well. It is what it is and the pleasing thing from the other night is the character that we showed. It was important that we went in at half-time at nothing each. I think I said up at Arbroath and after the match against Queen of the South that there is a bit of a different character to us now.

“That is not to say that we are happy drawing games but we are seeing a different side to us that I am convinced that earlier in the season we might not have picked up a points in these games.”

Dunfermline travel to Tayside on Saturday to face the Championship’s third placed team. Steve commented:-

“Dundee are on a good bit of form, but equally ourselves after the lay off and the disappointment because I am still convinced that he should’ve taken more from Inverness game, but to then react in the manner we did against Dundee United. I know that the last three we have a drawn but we are undefeated ourselves and we have to take heart from that.

“The disappointment from the first half at Patrick has been few and far between this season. It wasn’t just necessarily down to the players. We have addressed it and a half-time and we have seen a better performance in the second half so as a coaching staff as well, we have got to hold our hands up to that and say that we tried to be creative at a hard place to go.”

Stevie acknowledged the challenge faced at Dundee who have brought in a few new players in January, but he claimed it was “not one that we are not afraid of.”

Dundee scored four goals against us last time at Dens Park and Stevie discussed what went wrong that day in December.

“I thought we started the game well up at Dens the last time but after losing the second goal up there we did show our vulnerability. We opened up and it did look like they were going to close us problems.

“It wasn’t until we went down to ten men and went with a solid 4-4 with just Kevin up front himself that we probably looked stronger defensively. We worked on that towards the end of January and it has brought brought us success.

“There were different problems caused for us in the Patrick game that we have to watch because teams are going to have us watched as well to see where our strengths and weaknesses are. You cannot think that the last game is going to work for your next game. It was pleasing on Tuesday when we did change to 3-5-2 that the boys took the game to Patrick and competed.

“I don’t think it was a case of not opening up on Tuesday. That was our fifth game and we have a sixth game coming up on Saturday.

“I am not saying that we are physically not in a good place but if you are dealing with something there is a problem area then I think it would have been naive of us as a coaching staff to go out in the second half and say 4-4-2 was going to work. On the night I didn’t think it was going to, Bannigan was getting on the ball and their wing backs were actually the ones giving the width to the team. Graham and Rudden then become an issue because they were getting higher up the pitch.

“I felt there was a reason to try and address it but it also allowed us to get Dom Thomas. Although I do not see him as a natural striker, he has experience and games under him to play up beside Jonathan.

“I said it after the game that people will see Ethan Ross and Gabby McGill coming off but the important thing for me to stress is that it was not in terms of their application or their effort on the night. It is just sometimes the lack of experience going to a place like Firhill when they are fighting to stay in the league. It was right at that moment just to match their midfield up and battle it out to see which wing backs come out on top to try and be creative further up at the park.”

Stevie had not missed a trend towards a three man defence:-

“By playing the three centre backs and then the two wing backs, it allows you to get two strikers in to the game. That brings its own challenges as well because Rudden was able to exploit us with his pace and Graham obviously has a physicalness about him.

“When you look at Dundee they are playing with three at the back as well. Kane Hemmings is in a good bit of form, he is proven at this level and he will be looking to lengthen the game and get in behind. Whether they play Andrew Nelson upfront with him or McGowan just around about him that brings its challenges.

“That is something that we have to give thought to going up to Dens. Do we go with a similar shape as we did against Patrick in the second half? Or do we look at the personnel and see where we are in terms of our recovery then go up with the 4-4-2 shape which has also brought us success. There are a few questions to be asked and answered between now and Saturday.”

The manager confirmed that Ryan Dow returning from a hamstring injury, trained for a full session on Thursday morning.

“We will have to see how he is in the morning. Lee Ashcroft was sent for a scan earlier in the week and it has come back showing a slight problem with his knee. That is not going to be a long-term injury but the weekend will come to soon. That is positive in that respect that for Lee’s own head that he went and got the scan. So he is working in the gym at the moment and Kevin Nisbet is just progressing daily with this ankle of his. We are hopeful that he will be back in training next week at some point. The ankle is a strange one, it has to take a lot of weight bearing. We need to see him running on it and we will see where we are with it next week.”

How difficult would it be if games had to be played behind close doors?

“That is out with our control. Personally I have not played behind close doors, it is not something that I have faced but if that is the route that we go down then we just have just got to try and apply ourselves properly.

“It will be a different atmosphere obviously but it is a decision that will be made by the powers that be that do that. So we are just happy to face anything that is thrown at us.”

Would you prefer the games to be played rather than postponed or cancelled?

“Questions will be asked and it will be the chairman who will be the one in communication about things like that. It is not an ideal situation where we find ourselves but it is important that we listen to the people who know what they are talking about.

“My concern is getting the right team out on the park with as many fit bodies as possible to play. If the remaining fixtures are played behind closed doors then so be it and we will deal with that when we have to face it.”

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