Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 18th Mar 2021

18/03/21: SC - “I am fully focused on doing what`s right for this football club moving forward and it`s going to be a big nine games in the league between now and the end of the season.

On Saturday Inverness Caledonian Thistle will be the visitors at East End Park but this time in John Robertson’s absence, former Pars assistant Neil McCann will be in charge. Stevie Crawford commented and wished Robbo well:-

“I do not know what is happening with John Robertson’s personal life but he is a guy who has a lot of respect in the game, I respect him and whatever it is, our best wishes as a football club and my personal best wishes go out to Robbo.

“Neil McCann has stepped in and Inverness have trusted him to come in on a short term basis. I know that he has a relationship with Billy Dodds, he trusts him and he probably felt that it was right to get Billy in to work alongside Barry Wilson and Ryan Esson who have been up at Inverness for a number of seasons as well, so they are in good hands.

“I have always said that we have to flip it, concentrate on what we are going to try and do to Inverness. Our home form has been very good and our defensive record is very pleasing as well. I said after the Queen of the South game I said that we were hoping to try and create more chances, test the opposition goalkeeper more. I felt that we did that on Saturday.

“Saturday was a different type of game against Morton where we looked to try and turn their back four more. So if you asking to turn their back four more, you are not going to have as much possession of the ball in my eyes. You are asking questions and asking boys to take more chances.

“In terms of possession Morton out did us at the weekend. We created more goalscoring opportunities with the penalty, a couple of shots from effort and looked a threat at setplays again. We scored a very good goal towards the end of the first half.

“The Inverness game will be slightly different, there will be tweaks here and there as well but the pleasing thing was, after a disappointing result down at Queen of the South, the boys after a testing couple of weeks managed to get us the three points and up into second place again.”

The Pars season was on hold for two weeks after Covid-19 affected the club but Stevie Crawford praised the way they came back from that:-

“I think it is great credit to the boys, I can’t say too much about what we did face in that two week period. The manner in which we applied ourselves, the time on the training pitch if any at all for some of them. I think it`s that desire to try and do as well as we possibly can to finish a high in this league as we can.

“Things are going to be thrown at us this season with Covid. It is very pleasing that it did bring a togetherness. That dressing room was an elated dressing room after the game, when you find you are sitting in second place in the league again.

“There is also an element of relief because we did face things in that second half that were difficult and the legs were beginning to tire. Again we found a way of winning a game of football.”

One of the great successes on Saturday was Scott Banks, the on loan player was taken down for the first half penalty, he had an effort that just slipped wide of the left goalpost and he set up Dom Thomas to supply Craig Wighton for the only goal of the game. Stevie agreed:-

“Scott has come up from Crystal Palace, he has fitted in well with the group. You need minutes to get that match sharp in first team football. There have been flashes of it in some of the games that he`s played but you know I think everybody`s seen what he is capable of going forward at the weekend. He was a goal threat, he looked like he had an assist in him and he got there before the keeper to get the penalty for us.

“The pleasing thing was, I think when you look at some of the defensive stuff that Scott was doing as well he worked his socks off getting back the park and very much helped Aaron Comrie on that right side and played his part on that side of the game as well. I`m sure Scott will benefit from playing just about the 90 minutes at the weekend and he will be stronger for it.”

The manager had looked back at Craig Wighton’s penalty at the weekend and noted that the on loan striker had actually taken a head knock on the flick through. SC discussed the penalty failure and the goal that Craig scored just before half time:-

“I do know that he said that he changed his mind. It comes on the back of Declan missing the penalty and again, that`s football sometimes. The pleasing thing for me was at similar stages in the games - I think at Queen of the South it`s 13-14 minutes into the game when Declan misses the penalty and we end up losing the game. I see it as small margins that define games in football.

“Craig Wighton misses the penalty around about the twenty minute mark at the weekend and I think they fell away from it for maybe five minutes in that first half, but then rallied round and got stronger again. They then showed the resilience and the fight that again shows a wee bit of bottle and character.

“The fact that Craig actually scored the goal, I thought it was a great bit of play by Scott Banks nipping in before Stephen McGinn. He released Dom Thomas and it was a great ball from Dom. Everybody talks about his assists earlier in the season but it was a great delivery.

“He never flighted it away in the air, it was like a flat cross with pace on it that allowed Craig Wighton to direct it rather than to have to find a corner. So the pace on the cross allowed Craig Wighton just to direct it.

“So as I said, that was pleasing because sometimes you can go under in situations like that and the fact that the previous game we had missed the penalty and lost the game, the boys have turned that around and showed that they`ve got a bit of character.”

So if there`s another penalty on Saturday will Craig or Declan be nominated to take them or will it be someone else’s responsibility?

“Well, it`s something that there`s always a debate about, do you give somebody after they miss one, do you give them the opportunity to take another one. Declan never got that opportunity because he wasn’t in the park at that time at the weekend but we had decided before the game that Craig Wighton on the penalties.

“I`m sure that before the end of the week, that will be something that we will discuss with Craig and if it means that somebody else wants to step and try to take it then I’m all for that as well. If Craig wants to back himself and he is selected for the weekend, then I`m also quite happy for that.”

Now the lower leagues are to restart Stevie said that it was too early to think of loaning players back out.

“To be fair with what we`ve faced in the last couple of weeks I’m not going to say somebody`s going to be going out or not going to be going out. I think we`ve got to look at the squad after the weekend again and see where we are at. I have said before that we`ve got a number of players that could benefit from going out on loan and getting gametime.

“But as it stands at the moment, I am fully focused on doing what`s right for this football club moving forward and it`s going to be a big nine games in the league between now and the end of the season.

“We`ve got to give ourselves the best opportunity to make sure that we are finishing as high as possible in this league as we possibly can and then if we feel that there is any business to be done before the window shut then that`ll be discussions that we have over the weekend.”

Regards player availability for the Inverness match all Stevie would say in the wake of the covid cases, was:-

“To be respectful of the situation, other than Ryan Dow and Lewis Martin, at the weekend we should have a full squad of players to be able to choose from.”

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