Manager on ThursdayThursday, 10th Mar 2016
Allan Johnston was disappointed with Tuesday nights draw at home to Albion Rovers and has warned his team about losing slack goals:-
"With the position we're in, we expect to win every game we play, no matter who we're playing against. But we've won five and drawn one of the last six games we've played and we've scored a lot of goals, and not conceded a lot of goals. There's a lot of positive there as well but we know we can't afford to lose slack goals, especially after getting the lead as well."
The midweek catch up fixtures mean that every team in the league has played 28 games of their 36 match schedule. The point increased the league leaders advantage to eleven points over second placed Peterhead and Ayr United who are separated only on goal difference. The Pars manager continued:-
"It was an opportunity but you can say that about every game and every three points. Unfortunately, you can't win every game. It's a great one to bounce back in as well, a game against Ayr. It's the type of game as a player you want to play in and want to be involved in. There will be a good crowd and a good atmosphere, with two teams who want to go and win the game, so it's a game we're all looking forward to playing in."
The last time the Pars travelled down to Somerset Park it was just two weeks after a successful Scottish Cup tie there and the Fifers 2-1 kept them at the top of League One, a position they have held ever since. Allan Johnston felt that his players deserved credit for what they have achieved:-
"They have been unbelievable this season with the consistency they have shown and the number of wins and goals we've scored. If it was easy you would win every game but unfortunately football's not like that. But we're not taking anything for granted, we know we're in a great position, 11 points ahead of both teams but there's still a long way to go and we've got to make sure we can get the wins we need."
Ryan Wallace came off the bench yet again to score and his manager was delighted to see him hit the net again:-
"He had been taking his goals well, great finishes. It is amazing the amount of goals he has scored coming on and making a massive impact. You could say that about Hopkirk as well; all the boys who have come on as sub have made a big impact. That is why we are where we are."
Since losing to Peterhead and Dunfermline in successive weeks at the start of February, Ayr United have won four and lost one of the matches since. The manager acknowledged the threat in Saturday's opponents team:-
"When you look at their attacking players, going forward they are a really good team. They've got loads of options going forward with people who can score goals. Ryan Stevenson has scored a few goals, he is a real threat from setpieces and long distance. We know all about their qualities and I think we are similar as well, with the quality we've got going forward. We've got to make sure we make them defend and hopefully we can get the result we'll looking for.
"It's about us, every game's about us and how we play. Obviously we're respectful of the opposition we're playing and we've got to identify their good players and how they score goals. It's about us, that's why we're top of the league. We've got to focus on ourselves and how we play, and make sure come Saturday we go and get the result."
Of the suggestion that a Pars win increasing the points difference to 14 with just 21 left to play for, would effectively end Ayr United's slender title hopes, AJ replied:-
"I'm not really bothered about whether it kills off their hopes. We've just got to focus on ourselves. It's all about what we do. I'm not looking to see what it will do for Ayr, it's about what it will do for us. It would put us in another great position, although Peterhead are obviously still pushing as well."
Dunfermline and Peterhead are the only teams to take a victory away from Ayr in this season's league campaign so Saturday's match will not be easy. The Pars manager added:-
"It's great for us when you've got teams chasing you, because it keeps your focus on the games you're playing and keeps that intensity in training and the performance levels high in the games. It's a massive game and I'm sure we'll take a lot of fans down there. They'll get right behind us and hopefully we can get the result for them."
Andy Geggan should be back and he trained on Thursday. There were a couple of slight knocks following Tuesday's match but nothing serious and they all managed to train. Allan Johnston concluded:-
"You can tell everybody's desperate to play in the big games, they're all desperate to play in a game that will have a good atmosphere. So everybody's available."