Manager on ThursdayThursday, 1st Dec 2016
01/12/16: AJ - It is an important period over the next five or six weeks. We have managed to get two wins, we just have to build on that
Allan Johnston was pleased to have come through the tricky away tie at Buckie last Saturday and earn another away draw to Alloa Athletic:-
"It is a chance to progress in the competition and no matter who you get it will be difficult. We played Alloa in pre season and they are a good team. They have good players and were flying in the early part of the season. We know that it is going to be a tough test but it could have been a lot harder as well."
The wins away to St Mirren and Buckie Thistle are the first back to back wins since July but the Pars manager hopes it is the first of many more.
"It is an important period over the next five or six weeks. We have managed to get two wins, we just have to build on that. Ayr have always given us tough games, all very close and especially with Ian McCall`s relationship having been here as a player, he always has them well fired up. It is going to be another tight game but hopefully we will come out on top."
A legacy of the long trip to the Moray Firth coast could be the team sprit created with the overnight stay, the manager commented:-
"That wee bit of team bonding and getting to know each other better always helps. A couple of wins keeps the confidence up and we will try to carry that into the next game."
Definitely not involved this weekend will be Andy Geggan, he is progressing well but is possibly a week or two away. David Hopkirk has started to do some running and he joined in training with the 20s today. Ryan Williamson has been training for the last few days. Gavin Reilly has moved on from a strengthening programme to running.
"We are starting to see a bit of movement and people getting nearer to coming back. That will give us that bit of competition again. It does get stretched but when you look at the way our under 20s have been doing you wouldn`t be scared to put any of them in the team as you saw with young Conner (Duthie) last week.
"He did really well and there are a few more that are very close as well. They just have to keep up the performances that they have been doing. Callum Smith scored another goal in the 20s on Tuesday, Scott Lochhead is very close and a few behind that as well. It is great to see that kind of competition with young boys improving.
"It is always an incentive to the others when they see one of the young boys playing. They have the ability to step up to the first team, but it is about doing it consistently week in week out and not just about getting in the first team, it is about getting there and staying there. You need to make sure that you work even harder once you get a taste of it. Conner is one of them who will hopefully improve."
Scott Lochhead has had his contract extended this week until the end of the season with an option of another year. He has impressed Allan Johnston as well:-
"He was signed short term to start with because he has had a number of injuries over the last couple of years. When at Dundee United with Jackie McNamara as manager he was very close to the first team. We are delighted that he has been great, come on leaps and bounds. His confidence and general play has improved over the last four or five months so we were delighted to see him sign an extension."
Asked about the other first team players like Farid El Alagui whose contracts expire in January AJ revealed that he had been speaking to agents. John Herron is on loan and greater clarity is required of his situation. "We need to get the wins before we start looking at people`s contracts."
The potential to leap frog Ayr United with a win on Saturday is a great motivation for the players.
"We never started the season the way we wanted to start but we are starting to catch teams up above us now and if we can put a run of results together Ayr and Queen of the South can get a bit closer.
"It is up to us, we just have to keep on improving, keep on working really hard, and making sure that we finish the second half of the season strongly.
"The league is really tight and if we can put four or five results together, you quickly climb the table. That is the target."