Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 6th May 2021

06/05/21: SC - “Because of its unique circumstances we know going into it that you can’t draw the game. That is a different objective right from the off ...

After Tuesday’s goalless draw in the First Leg of the Premiership Quarter Final play off it is regarded still only half time. The Second Leg at Stark’s Park on Saturday afternoon will be no different claim the Pars boss Stevie Crawford earlier today:

“It is going to be a competitive game and it showed on Tuesday night what it meant to both clubs, players and coaching staff to try and get through the tie to face Dundee.

“We are at the half time stage where we can take a lot of confidence from some of our attacking play on Tuesday night. I thought it was really really good but again we have to be aware of what Raith Rovers are good at as well. We have to focus on what we are going to do to try and hurt them but equally be aware of the challenges that they are going to throw at us.

“There were a lot of positives from Tuesday night but that is gone now. We have to prepare for 90 minutes, 120 minutes and also the fact that it can go to penalty kicks as well. It is a unique game that faces us now and one that we are looking forward to.”

After losing out on penalties to both St Johnstone in the Betfred Cup and Morton in the Scottish Cup the manager revealed that training hadn’t yet included practicing penalties:-

“We will train tomorrow and it will be something that we will go over. You sometimes look at things like that and consider whether it is something that you can replicate when the pressure is on you at that vital moment. We will make sure that we give the boys the opportunity to practice penalties tomorrow but I think it is a law of its own when the pressure is on you on the match day itself.”

At East End Park in the First Leg Stevie reckoned that the players, and he personally felt that that it was a different atmosphere from the three Fife derbies played earlier this season:-

“There is always a nervousness that you want to do well and that’s a good thing. If you have not got those nerves then I think that you are in the wrong job, it is nerves that spur you on to try and do well.

“It had a slightly different feel to it the other night knowing that it was going to be over the two legs. The players showed, although they were nervous going into the game it showed in a positive performance. We will be looking for that again on Saturday.”

Is the pressure all on Raith now?

“No I don’t think so. With it being a play off over the two legs we could equally have said that on Tuesday night of ourselves. It is a different proposition that is put in front of you from the league game where you face each other.

“I don’t think it is the case of heaping the pressure on Raith Rovers, their home form is very good and we are fully aware of that. The one thing that we know that we have got to do if we want to progress to face Dundee, we know that we have to win the game. How we do it and how long it takes us to do that we will find out come Saturday afternoon.

“Because of its unique circumstances we know going into it that you can’t draw the game. That is a different objective right from the off but I will not hide from the fact. Our away form in terms of results and getting points on the board is something that we can get better at. You can hide from it or you can stand up to that challenge.

“Personally we will stand up to the challenge. I was asked about belief in my players, I have got a belief in the squad - it is not an arrogance. I believe in them, I think their end of season form has been very good but we can’t rest on our laurels.

“Saturday is going to be a totally different type of game from what some of us have experienced before. I want us to look forward to it, embrace it and take whatever is thrown at us.”

How does someone who has experience as both a player and a manager consider the different pressures in this kind of match?

“As a manager you take the responsibility much more to heart. It is not just yourself who has to try and the reach the levels that you were hoping for. As a player you can become a team player or an individual where you take a responsibility for the team. As a manager it is more of a collective.

“I didn’t feel that my players were at a stage where their nerves got the better of them. I actually thought that it put an edge to us and I thought watching them and speaking to them after the game on Tuesday night, albeit there was disappointment that we never scored that they enjoyed the occasion which is important. We will only enjoy Saturday if we win the game.

“It is making sure that there is no issue with nerves. We are looking forward to it, you have got to have those nerves when you wake up on Saturday morning and have butterflies in your stomach because I think that allows you to strive for success.”

The 5-1 defeat at Stark’s Park in March is decidedly dead and gone as far as the Pars players are concerned and Stevie was no different when asked if that had any bearing?

“I think I have held my hand up for that one. I didn’t want to make much of us beating Raith Rovers 4-1 at home earlier this season because it didn’t mean that we were going to turn them over at our place. Again, it is a different feeling from a normal league game.

“I was pleased with the attitude and application of the players, I think you can see that they are in a good bit of form. The hunger to try and progress in the play offs was the important thing. Albeit our objective was to make the play offs, the next question is that it? Are you quite happy to see the season out?

“I didn’t see any hint of that in the performance on Tuesday night and I didn’t see it in the Raith Rovers players. It was a great advert for Fife albeit was 0-0 I thought it was two teams going head to head. Slightly different styles of play, we enjoyed it and I think Saturday will be no different.

“I am fully focused on wanting Dunfermline to progress in this play off tie, as will John McGlynn with Raith Rovers. It is good that we are coming head to head in the heat of the battle. We are not talking about being at the bottom play offs and fighting to say in the division.

“It is a positive that we should look at and unfortunately there will only be one winner. That is the challenge that faces us and I can only take heart from the performance in the first leg and have belief in my players knowing that we are good enough to do that.”

Player availability?

“As I have touched upon before, the game might come just a little too quick in terms of the number of training sessions some of the boys may have had. Long term injuries, Lewis Martin and Ryan Dow are the only two out at the moment and unable to train.

“Ryan is six weeks now into his rehab, I’m not saying that he is nowhere near it but it was quite a serious Achilles injury. He will have a better idea in the next three to four weeks where he is at but it is great that he is actually on the pitch doing a little bit of work now with the physio. It is a positive step in that regard for Ryan.”

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