Manager on Betfred Cup drawTuesday, 11th Aug 2020
11/08/20: Stevie Crawford makes comment on Betfred Group in which his side will face Kilmarnock, Clyde, Dumbarton and Falkirk.
Following the draw for the group stages of the 2020-2021 Betfred Cup Stevie Crawford today gave his reaction to Group E where Dunfermline were drawn along with top seed Kilmarnock and three League One teams.
“I think the difference this year is that we sometimes get a week or so ahead of Premiership teams in terms of preparation for the Betfred Cup because of the way their season works out and the start dates.”
This year the Scottish Premiership has kicked off eleven weeks before the rest of the SPFL who will not start until three fixtures are played in the Betfred Cup group. Those match dates are Tuesday October 6th, Saturday October 10th, Tuesday October 13th, Tuesday November 10th and Saturday November 14th. Stevie feared that his side might face Kilmarnock on one of those three October dates.
“It then becomes a very difficult fixture because they are going to be up and running by that stage. If I am a player - and I know through a couple of texts that I got yesterday from the boys - they like the look of the group. They know that it is going to be competitive and the fact that we have three League One clubs shows that it is going to be a very difficult group along with the challenge that we face with Kilmarnock already up and running.
“Whether it is played here or at Kilmarnock, Dom (Thomas) and Iain (Wilson) will be playing against their old club. The extra interest comes with Greg Kiltie being an opponent after his decent loan spell with us last season. He will be the spy in the camp for them as they try and pull one over us.
“I always enjoyed playing against former clubs, it didn’t make me trying harder but because there is an attachment having spent a number of years, I am sure that Iain and Dom will be looking forward to it but I know the feeling from the group is that it is a fixture that they will be looking forward to.
“When we drew Falkirk in the group my natural reaction was I was ‘that’s great’, games like that are a proper competitive fixture. Then it hits you that there are not going to be fans. It is going to be challenging to the players, a different feel.”
The manager felt that how well teams deal with having no spectators in stadiums could well govern their ultimate success.
“They have managed to watch some of the games in the English leagues and the Premiership now in Scotland. It doesn’t take anything away from the fixture, there is that rivalry between Falkirk and Dunfermline. It will be another tough one, they were up challenging just a point behind Raith Rovers. They had a very decent season, scored a good number of goals and I think they conceded the least number of goals in the league.
“Then obviously we have got Clyde and Dumbarton as well. Danny Lennon won promotion two years ago with Clyde, stabilised and finished mid table. Danny and Allan Moore are a good partnership. They will have seen last season as a success having just won promotion and they will be looking to kick on again now.
“Dumbarton were in and around that area as well last year. They struggled at the start but finished the season stronger. They have a good management team in Jim Duffy who I worked under a number of years ago and Craig Macpherson who I worked alongside and he was a big influence on the young ones at Falkirk.”
The Betfred fixtures will be treated as seriously competitive games and will not be treated as pre season friendlies. Stevie outlined his approach to pre season:-
“There are challenges. We are working behind the scenes to arrange the right pre season games. Because the Premiership teams are up and running that brings its difficulties. You don’t want to be playing against teams in your own division, I am not ruling that out but we might end up playing a bounce game.
“Now we are looking at playing three League One teams in the League Cup so it makes it more difficult finding friendly opponents. We have to try and get that balance right, being competitive in the League Cup but also that will let us see where we are at going into the league campaign because these are going to be proper tough fixtures.”
The SPFL has confirmed the League Cup groups but not the fixtures. When pre season starts will depend on when the date of the first competitive game and Stevie added:-
“We don’t know yet if we are playing on that first date, 6th October. It will be there or thereabouts 25th August or possibly the week after for pre season starting.
“I cannot confirm pre season fixtures at the moment. We have a couple of games in the pipeline but we have had to wait on the League Cup draw because (if you don’t) you end up having to rearrange the fixtures.
“Whether we can look to play a strong reserve team from some Premiership clubs might be the case but that will be dictated by injuries and suspensions and games that they are facing as well. You are touching base with people you know in the game to make sure that we get a decent amount of game time going into these League Cup fixtures.”
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