Chris Hamilton has worn the captain’s armband for a large part of this season but on Tuesday he had additional attire. He led the team out for the derby against Raith Rovers with a specially fitted face mask. As it turned out the crowd of almost 8500 match was not for some New Year masquerade ball but a show down against the current league leaders.
Chris admitted that his mask restricted his vision ever so little but it was necessary if he was going to play after missing the game away to Ayr with a fractured cheekbone. He explained the advice he had been given:-
“I spoke to a specialist on Sunday and he was happy for me to play with the mask on with little risk involved, so that was good. I was happy to do it. It’s hard, obviously it’s a wee bit different as you lose some vision but it’s not too bad. I’ve only trained with it once, after I got the all-clear, so it just takes a wee while to get used to it but it’ll be alright.
“I had the option (of surgery) as I’ve got a small dent on the side of my face so it would be to put it back into place but I think I’m just going to go without it and just keep playing. Not ideal but it is alright.”
Chris praises advice
Chris is unsure how long he is going to have to wear the mask but suggested possibly another couple of games until the bone properly heals. He was pleased with the assistance he has received since the clash with striker Jay Bird at Gayfield:-
“It was sore but to be fair the physio and Arbroath doctor handled it well. They just said I wasn’t able to continue, as I wanted to try and play on and see if it would settle down, but they saw the dent straight away and realised what it could have been. So fair play to them for taking control and getting me off.
“I feared it could have been a wee while but with injuries like this it’s so hard to find anything online or in papers, you really need to speak to a specialist about it who deals with sports people. Once I spoke to him and got the all clear I was delighted.”
Sam Fisher’s injury
Chris’ availability was great news for the team, management and Pars fan on the continuing hoodoo affecting Dunfermline centre backs. Sam Fisher returned at Ayr but suffered further injury in the first half on Tuesday. When Chris spoke after the derby he had not seen him since going off or spoken to the doctor about his team mates health:-
“There was loads of blood. It didn’t look great but I don’t know what the diagnosis is or what actually happened. I know my stud caught him, I think it’s maybe caught him on the nose, so it looks a sore one. I’m gutted for him, it’s frustrating but hopefully it’s not as bad as it looked. We’ll wait and see.”
Rhys Breen’s injury
Rhys Breen also went off in the Raith games as the centre backs curse didn’t relent. His knee was giving way after going into a challenge with Jamie Gullan. Kyle Benedictus made a comeback at Ayr after an absence of two months but hasn’t started a match since the first Saturday in September. He was helped off at the final whistle with his thigh problem re-appearing. Chris lamented:-
“It’s one of those things, it’s mental and I’ve never seen it in my career. It’s strange injuries as well, my cheekbone, Sam’s nose, Bene’s foot earlier on in the season, just things that are unavoidable and just happen and it seems to happen every few weeks just now. We can’t use it as an excuse. We need to keep going. We’ve got bodies that can fill in and the boys are doing that just now.”
As well as losing centre backs Dunfermline lost disappointing goals to Raith and Chris echoed James McPake’s disappointment at losing goals at setplays:-
“The goals we lost were poor, we know that. We need to defend our box much better. On the flip side we need to be better in the other box, try and get on the end of things and work to get that wee bit of luck we’re just not getting right now. Overall I thought we played well in the game, in between the boxes we dominated most of the game, you can do that all you like but if you don’t defend your box then you’re going to struggle.”
Raith’s attacking players have caused Dunfermline problems in all four previous matches this season against them and the team succeeded in nullifying that threat with Chris claiming that he didn’t feel under much pressure in open play.
“They’ve got players that can do that and we know that but when two set pieces kill you, it hurts even more because we work on that and are big on that. So something is not quite right with that and we need to keep working hard on the training pitch and we will try and rectify that as it’s letting us down just now.”
Dunfermline had started the game well, pressing the Rovers goal but then they scored the opening goal, Sam Fisher went off injured and there had been consequential changes to player’ roles. In 38 minutes a bit of magic from Ben Summers got the home side back into the game:-
“I thought we finished the half well. You look to start the second half as you finished the first but we lose another goal and it brings you back down. Again, I thought we reacted well after that and went back to dominating the ball, just maybe not creating that clear cut chance that we needed. We are disappointed. The last time we played them we were very poor, Tuesday I thought we played well and gave the crowd something to get behind, and we felt that. As I said earlier, you can play well all you like, but we need to get back to defending our box much better than what we are.”
On Friday night Dunfermline travel to Hampden Park to play Queen’s Park. While that means he doesn’t have long to wait for the next game, Chris did hint that much hope of getting players back might be extremely limited:-
“That’s what you want after a disappointment, to get back on the pitch and put things right so we’ll try and get a squad and a team together to go there and try and pick up three points.”