Manager on ThursdayThursday, 10th Dec 2015
10/12/15: AJ - "Whoever wins, I don't think it will decide who's going to win the league. There's a long way to go, a lot of games to play ...
With the trip to Ayr on Saturday, Allan Johnston is pleased to get back on to league business.
"We're top of the league and obviously we want to stay there. So, this a big game for us and hopefully we can go there and get the right result."
It will only be two weeks since Dunfermline's 1-0 win over Ayr at Somerset Park in the Third Round of the William Hill Scottish Cup but the manager again stressed that in his opinion the cup win will not have any bearing on this game.
"Obviously, it gives us a bit of confidence for this one, but it's two good teams facing each other. They've shown a lot of consistency this season and so have we, so it's got the makings of a really good game. But, whoever wins, I don't think it will decide who's going to win the league. There's a long way to go, a lot of games to play - but obviously we would rather win it."
Johnston, who has been over course to win promotion out of the third tier of Scottish Football when he was with Queen of the South, continued:-
"It's a long season and we're not even half-way yet, which just shows you how many important games are still to be played. There are a lot of big games coming up, especially over the Christmas period, and it's just important we try and get as many results as possible.
"Obviously, it would give us a massive lift to go down to Ayr and win. So, there's a lot of importance on the game and I'm sure we'll take a big following down with us as well."
After strong winds and torrential rain last time, both sides will be hoping for an improvement in the weather for this Saturday's team. AJ continued:-
"It was terrible, so hopefully the weather won't be the same this time - but I'd be happy with the same result. I used to go there when I was younger and watch my brother playing. It's a hard place to go and get a result, but the boys have shown they're capable of doing that."
Faissal El Bakhtaoui scored twelve goals in his first eight matches of the season but his goal against Brechin was his first in the last eight. His manager felt that his striker had been playing well:-
"I said that to him. I said: 'You've been fantastic the last few weeks' and the goals were going to come eventually because he had been playing really well and had been really unlucky. It was only a matter of time and once you score one often you go on and score more.
"The good thing is we've got other people in the team who can score goals. You've seen the number of goals we've scored this season; there's goals all over the pitch.
"So, if he's not scoring, someone else will score. We always look as if every game we play we're going to score. The defensive side is really important as well, to ensure we don't lose goals, and it will be a tough test at the weekend as well, because they've been scoring a few goals."
The two games against Ayr United this season already have been physical games and the manager expects this next one to be no different:-
"That's the way they play. I think Jamie Adams is out suspended and that will be a big loss to them because he is a big physical presence in the air. I am not sure if maybe Devlin and Moore might be back but it's about us and it's about how we approach the game. We've just got to go down there and put on a similar type of performance. We need to pass the ball, like we always do, and make sure there's an end product to it, that we're having shots on target and testing their goalie."
Allan Johnston is hopeful that Andy Geggan will recover in time from a training ground injury:-
"Andy got a kick in training but hopefully he'll be fine come the weekend. Everybody else is back, so it's always good to have a fit squad, especially when you're going in against your biggest rivals."
Asked about the speculation that 19 year old midfielder Lewis Spence (below) might be loaned out to League One opponents Brechin City, all the manager would say was:-
"I think there's a couple of teams looking at a couple of our players that haven't been playing, maybe to take them on loan. We'll just have to wait and see. It's an important period coming up and we don't want to lose any of our good players. We've got a small squad. Spencey has been a wee bit unfortunate lately but I'm sure he'll get his turn."
Long term injured, Ryan Williamson and Callum Fordyce are progressing as expected:-
"We're not putting any time limit on it. We've just got to make sure that Ryan is back fully fit but he's progressing the right way, him and Callum. It's great to see them. The two of them have been working incredibly hard in the gym and you can see a difference in Ryan - he'll come back a long stronger as well, which is probably what he needed."
Having reminded everyone about the small size of his squad AJ was asked if he had plans to strengthen squad in January:-
"I don't know if we'll be able to. I've not really had that conversation but you're always looking to see what players are available and if we need to strengthen, whether that's because of injuries or whatever, who is available, who we could get in. That's part and parcel of your job anyway."
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