Manager on ThursdayThursday, 29th Oct 2020
29/10/20: SC - “We are in a good place now because we are winning games but I am not going to kid ourselves on that everything is going to be rosy.
The Dunfermline manager Stevie Crawford is very pleased with maximum points from two difficult league games. Championship sides generally agree that Alloa are a difficult team to play against and that is because they are so good in possession of the ball. Dunfermline forced them to start playing long diagonals on Saturday and Stevie looked back over the 4-1 win at the Indrodrill Stadium:-
“There were no real surprises from Alloa to be fair. They are a possession based team, you can see over the last few years that Peter Grant has worked on them taking the ball at the back. They pass the ball about, get into wee pockets and with a freedom to move, they are very difficult to mark.
“I thought that we were narrow and compact in the first half. Maybe that was not as pleasing on the eye as we would like to be but I thought there was a steeliness to our performance. The only real disappointing thing was losing the goal right on half time.”
After Ryan Dow had slotted away a seventh minute chance to put the Fifers into an early lead, they lost a goal on the stroke of half time, always we are told a bad time to lose a goal:-
“It was, and as I said the week before to lose the early goal against Inverness, you then look for a reaction from your players. There was a positive reaction. We didn’t panic and we didn’t go gung-ho in the Inverness game.
“We asked the players several questions to try and find how they felt the first half had gone when out of possession. I could sense a frustration building up in the team. By allowing them to speak their minds rather than us trying to tell them what to do.”
It allowed players a release and it showed in the second half which they started really well. Steven Whittaker had a chance early in the second half and then bringing on Kevin O’Hara had an immediate impact of scoring the second goal. The manager explained:-
“We just tweaked it a little bit and went with Steven Whittaker sitting, with three boys more narrow in front of them and still having the two strikers on the park. I thought it played into our hands to press Alloa a little higher up the park. We got the benefit and rewards through scoring two good goals late on.”
Reflecting on things that didn’t go so well Stevie felt his side got a little disjointed in the way that they were trying to play out of possession in the first half on Saturday.
“I feel that it is right to talk to my players and be honest and open if I am looking for them to go an express themselves on the park.
“I spoke to my staff early on Monday morning and then when I went through to see the boys who were doing recovery, I told them that I didn’t think that it worked the way that we had hoped but they kept themselves in the game at the point. We fixed a couple of issues at half time that gave us a foundation to go on and win the game.”
After failing to defeat Alloa last season, Saturday’s success removed the proverbial ‘monkey off the back’ but now they face Queen of the South who will feel in a similar position having failed to defeat the Pars last season.
“The last game against Queens here we drew 1-1 and Afolabi scored the penalty. In the first game of the season we went down there and drew 1-1 with them, the other two games we won but Queen of the South always give us a difficult game.
“I have said that and don’t want to keep sounding like that stuck record but you can’t go into any game in the Championship thinking that you have a divine right to win it. Queen of the South are on the back of two defeats and Allan (Johnston) and Sandy (Clark) come back to Dunfermline, knowing what it is all about. They are experienced and they have had to change a lot of personnel down there so they will be getting used to the way that they are playing.”
Stevie has watched coverage of Raith Rovers 5-2 win last week at Palmerston Park. He commented:
“For as much as it ended up 5-2, it could have been about six each. It was an open game and as I say, Queens will know the job that they have to do coming up here to play against us. We have got to very much just focus on the hard work ethic and then give our forward players an opportunity to go and express themselves to create chances.”
Queen of the South will receive a boost having their management team back after self isolation due to Covid-19 but the Pars boss claimed that he would rather take on every opponent with a full management and coaching team and their players are all fit.
“You always get a team that has suspensions and injuries, that is part and parcel of football, but I don’t want people missing through covid. We are going to face it at some stage, hopefully away in the future.
“This pandemic is not going to go away anytime soon. I think we just have to embrace it, take it on and remain positive. My players and even my coaching staff are at the stage of questioning what people outside are doing with their lives just now. What is there to get excited about?
“It is difficult. We have young players, young teenagers and some in their early players trying to learn the game but they are not going home and being able to escape. To go to the cinema or go and meet up in Starbucks or whatever it is. We have to be mindful that it is still our profession.
“I think that there is a release at training at the moment and then winning games. Thankfully at the moment I think the players realise that as well. It is just keeping that focus, not getting carried away and wanting to win as many games as we can but staying together and enjoying our football.”
The fans are missing supporting their side but the absence of fans is felt equally as much by the players and coaching staff:-
“It isn’t a nice feeling but what do you do? Do you then ask when are you going to get the fans back or do you turn it around and try and create an atmosphere amongst yourselves. The big part for me was signing boys that want to play football. That sounds stupid but at every team you should be wanting to play football when things aren’t going your way. There are spells in games, training sessions when things haven’t gone right.
“There are days when boys are getting up and dealing with family issues. That is when you find out the test of characters. We are in a good place now because we are winning games but I am not going to kid ourselves on that everything is going to be rosy.
“Cream rises to the top and I think that the personalities that we have brought in to the club help. Big Owain pulls off a double save at the weekend. Why? Because he is focused, he knows the job in hand, he has experience but what is he doing on Monday morning?
“He was not thinking about the double save that he has made, he is pushing young Ben Swinton, he is pushing Cammy Gill to the maximum that he can because he is professional. He wants them to enjoy it, he wants them to progress in their career. That is massive to me. He is not patting himself on the back and taking all the glory. He comes across that way, he is infectious. He has got feeling, he wants people to do well and progress. I am thankful that I have people like that around me.”
Following confirmation of the 2020/21 Scottish Cup format, the Pars match away to Heart of Midlothian on January 9 has been rescheduled for Tuesday 12 January.
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