Manager on ThursdayThursday, 19th Oct 2017
19/10/17: "The league is really tight and it would be great to put a run together and get up that league."
Manager Allan Johnston is approaching Saturday`s match against Livingston well aware that the West Lothian side are the form team in the Championship.
"It is going to be a really hard game. We knew from the start of the season when we first played them that they have a lot of good players, they have a style that suits them. They mix their game up sometimes they pass, sometimes they go long.
"They have a lot of height and we will have to put in a really good performance because obviously they are ahead of us in the table and it would be a great one to go and win and stay in touch with St Mirren at the top."
The opening match of the league campaign was against Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Stadium, a game that required a late Sean Murdoch penalty save to ensure that the Fifers left with a point on the board.
"Livingston work incredibly hard for each other, they are hard to beat. They don`t lose a lot of goals, they don`t lose a lot of games. They have won five out of the last six and it is incredible what they had done. You have to have a bit of respect for them because of what they have achieved."
AJ has noted the tremendous energy Livingston show going forward.
"They get a lot of crosses into the box and we will have to defend. At the other end of the park they have three big centre halves that put their body in the way, defend and make it really difficult. It is going to be a tough game."
Describing the Pars match against Queen of the South as "hardly a classic" Allan felt that a draw was a fair result:-
"I don`t think we created enough and I don`t think they created enough either. Sometimes you get games like that but it wasn`t great conditions for playing.
"You can make excuses but Queen of the South are a hard team to play against as well. You can see that they are stuffy, they don`t lose goals so we just have to make sure that we bounce back."
Having completed nine matches of the league season and sitting third in the table, AJ felt that the first quarter had gone well but admitted that there are still things that he would like improved upon:-
"We know that we have to keep on improving if we want to try and win the league. We have had a good record at home, apart from the Dundee United game. When we have done well at home it has been a really good atmosphere.
"You get a good feel for where you are after half a season. We have a lot of important games coming up. The league is really tight and it would be great to put a run together and get up that league."
Looking outside the league programme, the William Hill Scottish Cup will see the Pars meet Queen Park away on Saturday 18th November.
"It is a good chance to go to Hampden and play on a good surface. It could have been a lot worse but Gus (MacPherson) always has his teams really well organised and hard to beat. There are no easy games in football but the positive that it is a good environment that you are going to. It is a good stadium, it is a good pitch so hopefully that will help us.
"We will take a good support and it is somebody different to play. You don`t like playing the same teams, so there is a bit of freshness for everybody.
"We should be favourites to win but Queens Park gave us a hard game the last time here. In football if you don`t have the right attitude and not go into it the right way, it can be tough. It is their Cup Final."
The squad got a lift with Joe Cardle returning from injury to take part in training at Kelty on Thursday:-
"It gives everybody a massive lift because he is such a big player for us. He is an important player as well so it is great to see guys of that calibre coming back. Saturday is possibly a bit too soon, but you know Joe.
"He is desperate to get back, he couldn`t have tried any harder to get himself back. That is all you can ask for, people who go above and beyond to try and get themselves back fit and playing. We are delighted that he has started towards his comeback and hope that he will come through the next couple of weeks without any problems to get himself back into the team."
Joe pulled up with a hamstring injury in the home match against St Mirren on 16th September and his absence has coincided with injuries to Michael Paton and David Hopkirk that left the team short of options down the left. The manager felt that other teams will suffer the same way in the course of the season as well.
"It is typical but we need to get back on track. It is great when you have players of that calibre coming back and the place was buzzing this morning when he came in. He scored a few goals, he is a goal threat and he has worked really hard to get himself back as quick as he has."
The manager is expecting a bigger squad to select from by the time they face Inverness next weekend. Dean Shiels will have served his two match suspension for his red card at Falkirk. Michael Paton is reported to be slightly behind Joe Cardle in working towards his return and is expected to start training next week. David Hopkirk will require time to repair his heel injury.