Listen to this James McPake interview
It was a very happy Dunfermline manager who gave his thoughts after the 2-0 win over Queen’s Park.
“It was a good performance. In terms of football we were better in the first half than we were in the second even though we scored two goals in the second half. We were a bit wasteful in the first half but credit to the players for defending as a team from Lewis McCann and Craig Wighton all the way back to Harrison Sharp. It was a really good and complete performance, we never really looked troubled.
“Of course we were going to have to defend in the last ten minutes when we were 2-0 up but even then the centre backs – Sam Fisher, Ewan Otoo and Aaron Comrie – were heading balls out of the box and making clean clearances. We just looked like we played relaxed today.”
It was a real team performance and almost a perfect away performance was it not?
“It could have been better had we been more relaxed and ruthless in front of goal in the first half. It would have been a really comfortable afternoon, we created a lot of chances in the first half – we opened them up pretty well but we were wasteful and I suppose that’s good because it gives us something to think about. I wouldn’t be saying that had we not got the two goals in the second half.
“We believe as a group that our success last season was built on clean sheets and the way we could defend. Defending is not just your goalkeeper and back three or back four, it is the full team. They worked ever so hard to do that, nobody left anything out there, even getting an hour out of Wighton after his injury and lack of training. Ben Summers was excellent and Jakubiak and Owen Moffat coming on as well. It was a back three that hadn’t played together but we were confident enough with that system and that personnel. They showed why.”
Do you think Queen’s were very fortunate to have eleven men on the park at the end?
“From my viewpoint yeah but I’d need to see it back. Emotion gets to you during games, you are desperate for the final whistle and you get a bit excited. When I see them back I’m sure that I will stand by my own opinion at the time. We will wait and see, I’m looking at it with today red tinted specs, it is a bit different.”
The Queen’s Park manager waved away your handshake at the end?
“That was just emotion, he is gutted that they didn’t win the game. To be fair I was a bit emotional and when the tackles were going in. I will not lose any sleep over that tonight.”
Two great goals from Lewis McCann, the second in particular a real cracker?
“He has got that in him. We see that every day, he gets to the point where we need to tell him to stop practicing because he is risking injury. He is great to work with, he would practice every day if he could. He is probably getting the rewards of that now. It’s not improving since the start of last season because I don’t think it is that, it is just the confidence that he is playing with. It is a real asset, he is big, he is strong, he has two good feet. He has goals in him, he can header it, he scores all types of goals and causes all types of problems so I am delighted for him.
“He was desperate to get the hat-trick but it is not bad when you are coming away from the National Stadium and your biggest concern is that Lewis never got a hat-trick. That’s the desire in him. From day one when we came in and you get to know him, you just judge him and he has been exceptional to work with. Every single day he just wants to give everything he has got to become a better player and you cannot get enough of them.”
Did the aurora of coming to the National Stadium help your players more than Queen’s Park’s?
“No, it is a good place to come and play football. The pitch isn’t great, it had a game on it on Tuesday night so that’s maybe why. We have played on better pitches this season already. That’s going to be the case at times when there are a lot of games on here like there was on Tuesday night. I imagine the teams would have trained on it the day or the night before it. The pitch has taken a wee bit but it will be good when they get it recovered.
“For us turning up it wouldn’t have mattered whether it was here or East End Park, Lesser Hampden, Stenny where they played last year, we just want to turn up and perform. If we do that we give ourselves the chance of a positive result. For a lot of their players it would have been their first game here as well because it has been a while. To be fair I wouldn’t mind coming here more often because obviously if you are not playing Queen’s you are being successful. Anytime you get to come and play at Hampden or watch a game at Hampden is good. It is a bit different with no fans, it feels a bit like the football during Covid, although there was a small crowd. That is the only downside to today. I can’t speak for Queen’s but for us it certainly didn’t matter where we were playing. We were turning up to perform.”
Another away game in the league undefeated – fourteen now?
“My home record is not that bad either! I think the win was important since that’s the longest spell we have gone without winning since we have been in at the club. Has it been three games? We understand that we are in a tougher league, we are no illusions of that. Every team on this league can hurt you and that’s without being disrespectful of League One. At certain times in games we were 2-0 down but we always felt that we were the team in control.
“Now we are up a level we need to concentrate really hard in every game and get everything right. Probably the game where we have been best in terms of football was against Raith Rovers and it was a game we lost. It just shows you that the teams in this league have a bit more quality and they can hurt you a bit more so you need to be at it. Another away win great but we need to get back to winning at home as well.”
Players that were available showed you what great options you have got?
“We named the team yesterday and I’m not going to bed losing sleep on people shaking my hand or my team selection because it is a good squad. Look when you can bring Moffat and Alex Jakubiak off the bench, whether you are chasing a game or trying to see a game out, and add the quality of that. It is still a good team that we picked today.
“The players out are a concern. You would love to have Kyle Benedictus, Deniz Mehmet, Matty Todd, Kane Ritchie-Hosler, Rhys Breen, Paul Allan, Andrew Tod – to have them in our squad would be a really really good squad. At the minute we are a good team, a bit light but they are coming back. The only time that I went to a game a wee bit worried was Dundee United but that was me that picked that team to protect some players. I can’t have it both ways, I can’t look to pick a strong team and then pick a weakened team, go with some kids and expect everything to be brilliant. Injuries happen in football, we will get them back and I just hope everybody is fit and I’d maybe lose some sleep that night if I had to leave five of those players out but what a headache that is!”
The manager said the injuries to both Andrew Tod and Paul Allan were both minor. Andrew has a calf injury and Paul a bang to his knee. “Both should be back and available for next week.”