Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Friday, 11th Dec 2020

10/12/20: SC:- “That’s when I think you know you’ve got the right types in the building. We didn’t feel sorry for ourselves at half time and we stood up to certain challenges.

The timely introduction of substitutes on Saturday helped Dunfermline extend their unbeaten run to 15 games. At 2-0 down to Raith Rovers Stevie Crawford introduced as second half subs Aaron Comrie (56), Fraser Murray (59) and Kevin O’Hara (70). He revealed his thoughts on the interventions:-

“I just felt for the first time that Lewis (Mayo) who is naturally a centre back, was having a tough time of it at right back on Saturday. We had Aaron Comrie who is back to full fitness and I just felt, on a wider pitch than we had played on in a few games as well, that it was right to get Aaron on the pitch.

“Having an option to bring on Fraser Murray, he has an impact. Declan (McManus)’s ball switched play out to him. Fraser drifted in and then cut in on to his right foot. I have seen this in Fraser when he played at Hibs, he cuts inside and hits it that early and sweetly that Jamie (Macdonald) doesn’t really have a chance to get down to it.

“On Saturday we found ourselves in a situation that we didn’t want to be in. We changed to a 4-3-3 to see if we could get the wide players Dom (Thomas) and Fraser higher up the park to try and get the three in the middle - Ryan Dow with Kyle Turner and Kerr McInroy. It didn’t quite work but there was an improvement in the game at that point.

“We went two goals down which I thought was slightly against the run of play in the second half but it was a bad goal to lose. We thought that we needed to get another striker on the park to become more of a goal threat at that time. So Kevin O’Hara then comes on and has an influence as well.

“I did gamble on putting Ryan Dow into the middle of the park. He is not naturally a centre midfield player but we had these discussions with Greg, Jason, Whitts and myself. Ryan Dow played up at Tannadice last season and with a second half performance in which I thought we were excellent. Ryan can take the ball and he was bringing us into the game and allowing us to attack in the final third.

“It is about having good staff round about you but equally good players. They are the ones who are getting us to where we are at the moment and they deserve great credit for the way that they have gone about their business.”

The coaching staff were bitterly disappointed to lose two goals from setpieces. Manny Duku was allowed a free header on a third minute free kick to put the home side into an early lead and it did not look great for the league leaders when Duku’s header at a 65th minute corner was nodded home to double the lead. Stevie continued:-

“When we look back at it and being completely honest, it is the first time that we probably looked vulnerable at one end and not so strong at the other end. That is what we are going to face, teams are going to be more organised with the threat that we have been scoring goals from setplays this season.

“Raith had obviously worked on a few things themselves and we were disappointed with the goals. I always think on that side of things you can work hard to try and prevent things like that. It doesn’t guarantee that it is going to happen in the next game.”

Next up are Morton at East End Park where David Hopkin will be hoping his side can register their first away win of the season. Stevie warned that setplays are one of Morton’s threats as well:-
“Hoppy has a great record in the Championship and knows what is required. He won promotion with Livingston so we will have to make sure that we are more tuned in to certain wee things.

“I have spoken about fine detail when we have been positive this year, we have got to equally look at the fine detail to make sure that these things do not slip in as a regular occurrence.”

Detail appeared to be absent when there was no block on Duku at the first goal. Stevie admitted that a slight naiveness was shown as the tall Amsterdam born striker got round the back to score:-

“There was a block in it but I don’t want it to feel like I’m chucking people under a bus, because it’s far from that. But when you work with players who are keen to learn they’ll hold up their hands and they’ll know they could possibly have done something better.

“That’s when I think you know you’ve got the right types in the building. We didn’t feel sorry for ourselves at half time and we stood up to certain challenges.

“I said it after the game, it hurt to lose the game 3-0 to Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup albeit it wasn’t my signings or my team at that time. I still led the team out to get beat 3-0 that day. Standing on the touch line on Saturday at 2-0 down after such a great start to the season, I was standing saying, ‘c’mon, this is the moment we’re waiting on to go and show we have got the mentality’.

“The pleasing thing was the manner in which we scored the goals. There was quality from Declan switching play, Fraser Murray driving and then cutting inside to finish the way he did. Ryan Dow skipping past boys the way he did and then hanging the ball up for Declan to finish sweetly.

“Again we tried to win the game, we didn’t just accept a draw at that point. Credit to Raith Rovers they tried to go and win the game as well and I thought that it was a great advert for the Scottish Championship.”

Judging by his celebration Declan McManus thoroughly enjoyed netting the Pars second and his manager appreciates the part Dec plays in the team’s successes:-

“Strikers want to score goals, I will not hide away from that fact but as a staff we have been delighted with the way Declan has come back into the group. I think he has matured. There is a maturity in him, I think he understands that we appreciate the hidden stuff. Even out of possession, the work he does to close down centre backs in a certain way or drop on to the deepest midfielder.

“He understands that role and he is probably enjoying having younger strikers round about him and that he is now the leader. On that side of things I am delighted with Declan, that goal will boost his confidence and hopefully we will see that in the coming games.”

There still remains a question over whether player / coach, Steven Whittaker will be on the pitch or in the dugout. SC explained:-

“Steven Whittaker has been running and kicking a ball but we have five games between now and the end of the year. We will monitor where he is at but with it being a hamstring, you just have to be mindful that we do not push him and end up, for the sake of trying to get a couple of games in early, that we then lose him longer term. The one thing I will say is that Steven knows his own body, knows where he is at and we have not ruled him out for the weekend as of yet.”

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