Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 28th Jan 2021

28/01/21: SC - “It will be an environment that will be different because I feel that the crowd are on top of the players when you play at Tynecastle and it can be quite hostile at times

Although taking only one point for the third game running, Pars manager Stevie Crawford claims that it is not all doom and gloom as he prepares for Saturday’s trip to play Hearts:-

“We are sitting second in the league and there is a platform. We are looking solid defensively and we just need to get that finishing touch to start scoring goals again.”

Dunfermline can take confidence from rivals Raith Rovers leaving Tynecastle last Saturday and Stevie reflected on his former club’s success there:-

“They obviously went across and won the game 3-2 at the weekend. It is going to be a tough week for us, let’s not kid ourselves on, we are facing Hearts on their own patch, then we face Raith Rovers on the Wednesday night and Arbroath the following Saturday. The old adage is to take one game at a time.

“They will cause us problems so we will have to be resolute, strong and work to make sure that we are not giving them opportunities to get easy possession of the football.

“Hearts and Raith are the top goalscorers in the league so in a way we have to make sure that we are ready for that. On the flip side of it, teams that score goals also open themselves up more in terms of their attacking play, so we have got to be exploiting areas of the pitch, where if they are opening to have a go at us then equally we have got to then exploit areas of the pitch where we get opportunities to score goals ourselves.”

The Pars gaffer always maintains that it all his attention and concentration has to be on themselves while not losing a focus on what other teams are doing:-

“We are fully focused on trying to win games of football. For as much as we are looking solid at the moment, we know the tasks and the problems that we have to try and overcome in terms of trying to look a little more dangerous in the final third of the park.

“I think that we have been competitive all season and for as much as we have not scored in the last two games, I think we have conceded one goal in four and there is a platform there for us.

“It is just getting that feel good factor and a belief in our attacking plays. People not being frightened to go and express themselves in the right areas of the park and people making runs at the right time to create and maybe pull defenders into areas that allows us to exploit.”

Stevie Crawford was assistant manager to the current Hearts manager Robbie Neilson when the pair left for MK Dons in December 2016. This Saturday he takes his Dunfermline side to face Hearts hoping to benefit from the absence of home fans:-

“It will be my first experience of going back to Tynecastle in terms of a competitive fixture so I am very much looking forward to it. I enjoyed my spell at Hearts, we managed to win the Championship and get ourselves into the Premiership to compete at the top end of that table. It will be an environment that will be different because I feel that the crowd are on top of the players when you play at Tynecastle and it can be quite hostile at times but it can also be a stadium where you can enjoy playing football.”

Returning to the 0-0 result at home to Ayr United last time out, Stevie was clear that it is disappointing not to take three points from any match played at East End Park at the moment:-

“I have watched the game back and the problem on Saturday was that we did not test their goalkeeper. Everything else, we were solid defensively and limited them to a few chances. We have worked on that (testing the goalkeeper) in the early parts of this week and it is just getting that feel good factor when you are getting into the attacking third of the pitch. You are trying to create goalscoring opportunities to give boys the chance to score.”

The manager acknowledged that in comparison to the best ever start to a season there had been a lack of goals of late but that was “definitely not” a concern in any way that there is maybe a lack of punch in the attacking third:-

“The hardest thing in the world is putting the ball in the back of the net. I think Ayr made a couple of changes at the back on Saturday, was that to combat what we were going to throw at them?

“It is us concentrating on ourselves as well. We tried to play with two wider players higher at the weekend with Declan through the middle. In essence we were playing with three upfront rather than two central ones but did it come off the way we had hoped? No, not when I look back on it.

“I am not going to say that we cut them open at the back so that was a bit of credit that you have to give Ayr United that they changed their starting eleven to combat some of what we were going to throw at them.”

All the squad came through the Ayr game unscathed leaving long term injured Lewis Martin the only player unavailable for the trip to Tynecastle. There had been hamstring concern over Fraser Murray but he has trained all week so on that front it is all looking good.

Fixture Amendment
Friday March 5
Scottish Championship
Raith Rovers v Dunfermline Athletic
Live on BBC Scotland, kick-off 7.45pm

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