Manager previews Raith derby

Dunfermline seek elusive Derby win over Raith Rovers

Dunfermline Athletic are seeking their first win this season over local rivals Raith Rovers when the two sides meet again in Saturday’s Fife derby. Despite playing well in several of the previous five meetings, the Pars have come up short each time, leaving manager James McPake determined to finally get one over their neighbours.

“If anybody is due anything, it’s the fans. They want to see a derby win,” James stated. “For us, it’s a game we want to go there and be competitive in, and play our way. The squad is better now and it’s stronger, and we’re looking forward to it.”

While admitting his side may have deserved more from the derby clashes, the manager knows “you’re never deserving of anything or due anything in football.” He added, “If you’re being brutally honest, it doesn’t matter how well you’ve performed. You’d much rather have done what happened that day and won the game.”

The Pars boss put it bluntly:- “If you’re consistently bad you’re going to lose more games than you win or draw, we’ve shown that. You’re going to pick up defeats in there, that’s football but we had three or four bad games where the performance level was low, and then we’ve stepped it back up and results have picked up again.”

Previous Fife Derbies

“The derby games have been decent enough, apart from the the Scottish Cup tie. That was a great day for them.  We were poor, we got bullied on the day. Apart from that one it’s probably the only game where, over the course of a longer period of time, where the team that plays better doesn’t win.  It’s a cliché, but with everything that comes with it – the atmosphere, the build-up and everything else – form can go out the window. Performances can go out the window as well.  You can be great but if you don’t put the ball in the back of the net it doesn’t matter. Like the game there the last time, we got hit by a sucker punch in the last minute and lost the game. Nobody really remembers how well you’ve performed.

“They’re special games, they’re good games, but I think it’s important that us and the players take a step back from that.  Of course, there’s a different build-up and a different feel, but you still need to be relaxed and go and play the game.  In the game here in the cup, we were far too relaxed, too stand-offish. We never laid a glove on them that day, and that game disappoints me the most out of them all.  You can lose a last-minute goal and you’re devastated and you think you should have won the game but the manner of performance hurts us. In the next game, we were a bit better but we’re still putting that right because that can’t happen again, in any game let alone a derby.”

Drawing on Derby experiences

James is wary his players can be too fired up for the occasion. “A lot of fans and people will not want to hear it. Some will say it doesn’t matter and you just go out and kick everything that moves.  I’ve watched enough games when I was younger and you think that’s right but when you’ve been in them, played in them, managed in them, it’s different.

“In England, it was Coventry-Leicester and then Hibs-Hearts, Dundee-Dundee United as a player and then Dundee-Dundee United as a manager and Falkirk-us and us-Raith.  I’ve got a fair bit of experience in them and I’ve seen some managers go into these games and you have to be peeled off the ceiling.

“At the end of the day, you need to go onto the pitch and you need to take care of the ball and work as hard as you can and be disciplined. I think that’s the problem when you’re too fired up. Discipline goes out the window and you’re not thinking straight.”

Squad News

Dunfermline will monitor the fitness of Chris Kane and Miles Welch-Hayes (pictured below) ahead of the game, but James believes his squad is now in a stronger position to claim that elusive first derby win of the campaign. “We’ve worked hard in the last couple of weeks and we’ve had a few decent results and performances, and we need to carry that into this game.”

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