Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Friday

Friday, 23rd Dec 2016

23/12/16: Allan Johnston recognises that a Boxing Day fixture is always special, a match with a great atmosphere

The Pars boss expressed his dismay that more clubs had not rescheduled fixtures from Saturday to Monday.

"I am surprised that more teams have not changed their fixtures. It doesn`t feel the same playing on Christmas Eve. I know it`s a Saturday but for me Boxing Day is a traditional fixture, a day that everybody looks forward to and a great game to play in.

"There is nothing better than going to a Boxing Day game with your family. It is one that we want to win and get the bragging rights. That is a massive part of it and we know how much the fans look forward to it. It is probably the first fixture that they look for when they get the fixture list out - to see when we are playing Falkirk. We know how much it means so we will be trying our utmost to try and get the win."

Acknowledging that the Bairns have had a strong team for the last few years and been up there challenging near the top of the division, AJ added:-

"They are up there again this year but a win would take us a step closer as well and we could start putting pressure on teams like Falkirk. The league is tight and it is important that we pick up results.

"We have been unfortunate at times this year. Even some of the draws lately could quite easily have been wins that would have taken us that bit further away from the bottom of the league.

"There is still a long way to go but we need to start getting as many wins as possible and start catching the teams up above us."

Reflecting on last Saturday`s match in Dumfries against Queen of the South the manager said that he was really pleased in the way they came back from a goal down at half time.

"We lost a goal in a scrappy first half where there was little quality. The boys responded really well to come back into it. They got two goals which says a lot about the quality of player that we have got and the confidence that they have got to come back.

"You are always disappointed when you lose a goal and we just have make sure that we learned from that, see out games when you go ahead, especially in this league where it is so competitive.

"We were really good in the second half, they couldn`t get out of their own half for long periods. That is the way that we have to start games. When you start games the way we did in the first half against Queens you end up losing a goal.

"In the second half we took the game by the scruff of the neck, we dominated it and scored the two goals that should have been enough to win it."

Jason Talbot scored the equaliser against Queen of the South and although the player always claims to be a goal threat. Allan joked:-

"So he is always telling us but I have still to see it. He scored a couple of goals at Livvy. Hopefully that is the first and he can get a few more as well because he has been in a couple of good positions since the start of the season. It is just about having that wee bit of composure when you get in front of goal."

Christmas makes no difference to the players training schedule, the manager explained it was still work as normal:-

"We will not be in on Christmas Day but we will do normal training on Christmas Eve. I don`t think it makes a massive difference if they are in or not. I have done it loads of times as a player and as a manager - you win games, you lose games it is hard to say if it makes any difference.

"You have to trust the players. I have been in that position before when you are asked to come in on Christmas Day and even gone away and stayed in hotels, it is not great. I have had occasions where you have had the day off but it is all about making sure that you turn up on Boxing Day and get the result."

On the injury front, Michael Paton trained on Friday so that leaves only Ben Richards-Everton out. Kallum Higginbotham is suspended and the manager rues that as a big loss given in his opinion Higgy has been one of the team`s best players over the last six weeks.

"There is an opportunity for somebody else to step in and try and get themselves into the team."

Storm Barbara brought heavy rain across the country on Friday but the manager praised the ground staff for considering the weather forecast and preparing the pitch earlier in the week. "The pitch will be in good condition."

Asked what would be his Christmas wish Allan Johnston said:-

"It is to go on a run. Over the last seven or eight games we have shown more consistency but we need to turn more of them into wins.

"It is important that we are competitive but we have also got to show our quality and score goals. We can improve, we just have to make sure that we keep on improving. We are going in the right direction just now."

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