Dunfermline Athletic

Manager post Airdrieonians

Saturday, 22nd Apr 2023

22/04/23: Link to audio of James McPake’s post match comments

- - Listen to this James McPake interview

“The first thirty minutes the team was fantastic” claimed Dunfermline manager James McPake:-

“Airdrie are a good side. I was quoted, and got a bit of stick, for saying that they are the best team that we have played in this league, I still firmly believe that. I have a lot of respect for Rhys McCabe and what he is doing so we knew that this was going to be a hard game.

“We started the game ever so well, some of the football was excellent and we should have got ourselves in front. Unfortunately for a bit of luck or for a bit of decision making in the end it didn’t matter but I was delighted with the first half performance.”

You must have been pleased by the way the nine men held on and stretched the unbeaten record?

“It was a club record before the game but we don’t want to give that up. We are not going to let the season fizzle out. We have an away support here in their numbers, we have got players who are desperate to win every single game. Unfortunately we didn’t win the game but the character they showed late on in that game was incredible.

“I am not surprised by that. You don’t go on 22 game unbeaten runs if you don’t have character, we still have two to play, but you don’t lose one game all season if you don’t have character and that real desire to work for your team mates. That is what they did and I’m delighted with that in the end.

“I’m not talking about the red cards but delighted with the desire, the courage, everything that they showed to stop the ball going in the net. That shows what that group is all about. There have been times where it has been classed that other teams play better football, other teams do this, other teams do that.

“I don’t know how many points we are clear at the top of the league (it is actually eleven) it doesn`t really matter but I think that first half performance showed exactly what that group of players can do. They were excellent. Then the opposite side shows you why we are comfortably clear at the top of the league.”

Have you any thoughts on the two red cards?

“It’s our first two of the season, I have plenty thoughts on them yes, but I know what happens when you talk about them. I will keep them to myself.”

It was a good defensive performance from the nine men at the end?

“I heard Dave say in press from yesterday that Airdrie had scored 26 goals in their last seven games. They are a dangerous, dangerous team. They are a very good footballing, attacking team. What I will say about that Airdrie team is that I’m glad that I’m not playing them in the play offs over two legs because that could end up anything as we have seen from the games down here.

“We were 3-0 down and won 4-3 and maybe that shows the differences in the teams in terms of the way when we were down to nine men we could still hold on. Maybe that’s because the league is won, I don’t know, but I wanted to continue that record. The record is there but the full group wants to add to that.

“I didn’t feel that we were under too much pressure. They had a lot of the ball, of course they are going to because we were set up to allow them a lot of the ball. We wanted to keep ourselves narrow in the pitch, it was the only way that we could stop them. They have good players when we had eleven players on the pitch so when you are down to nine their good players are still really good players but they have got extra and more than you. We had to give up areas of the pitch which we did.

“Defensively Chris Mochrie and Robbie Mahon - attacking players - then had to do a proper defensive shift. In terms of football development and football education, that is great for them and I’m delighted with that.

“I wanted to win the game and I think first half we did enough to be comfortably in front but that’s football. You have got to take your chances, we didn’t and in the end it feels like a win if I’m honest because of the way they saw that game out.

“I don’t think I have ever said that after a draw. Even when we came from two behind to draw 2-2 at Falkirk but this Airdrie team can really hurt you with eleven, more than any team in the league. It is just my opinion and that is up for debate, and my staff and players opinion as well. This team is the team that has hurt us the most in the league. Again that was going to be the case today but we stood up to it.”

You, the coaching staff and the players certainly looked like you enjoyed it from the scenes at the end?

“We have got to. These fans follow us everywhere and we will have a massive crowd at East End Park next weekend again. That’s not because the league is won, we celebrated like that the last time we were down here. It is not to disrespect anyone. We do it at home, we do it here. There is a great bond between the fans, the players and the full club at the minute. We want that togetherness to continue. It is more a thank you to them for travelling down in their numbers once again when the league was won last week.

“I know for a fact probably everyone over there will be going to the game next week again. I know that it’s not cheap to come to football, it is not too far a distance for them but given they could be doing anything on a Saturday but they choose to come and watch this Dunfermline team and I bet they all went away happy today even though we only picked a point up.”

The positivity seems to be running right through the club?

“There was unity there right from back in August / September. It picked up a wee bit when we won at Falkirk in front of a massive crowd but they have been with us from the start. As I said in the first interview I did with the club ‘I can’t promise any wins, I can’t promise a promotion, I can’t even promise going up through the play-offs, all that I can promise is that we will pick a team that gives everything for the fans that turn up.”

“There has not been a game where that has not happened in every single game that they have played. When we lost at Montrose they gave us everything. We were 2-0 down at Falkirk they gave us everything and we drew 2-2.

“People will look at it and say that it’s because we are winning but I think that was there at the very start. We went over that with the players before the game and said that the spirit was built from the first day. It was a reset button for the football club. There were new owners in and it was the first real chance after covid to get things going in a semi normal way compared to what it was like before.

“So it was a reset button for the full football club. This club has got a fantastic history, we don’t want to look back on it but we are very proud of it and the fans are very proud of it as well. They play a massive part in it so it is only right that every time we play in front of them we give everything. They also know, for the ones that have seen us training or the ones that hear me often enough the players give everything every day in training as well. There is a real work ethic in that dressing room and that’s maybe why when they are down to nine men against a very good, team that they can see it out. If we had lost the game we would still have done the same thing, go over to these fans because we have consistently done that.”

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