Manager on ThursdayThursday, 2nd Feb 2017
02/02/17: AJ - "it is a great one to go into, good atmosphere, it will be like a cup tie with both teams just desperate to go and get the win."
Allan Johnston knows that it takes only a glance at the Championship table to see how important Saturday`s match at the Falkirk Stadium is. He sees it as an opportunity to close the eight point gap on the fourth placed Bairns.
"Queen of the South are ahead of us as well so we want to try and catch the teams up above us. It is another game that we would like to win."
The two matches so far this season against Falkirk reveal a 2-1 away defeat and a 1-1 draw at East End Park. AJ felt that the results against Falkirk mirrored a number this season when his team maybe should have won instead of drawn:-
"We have played really well and not got the goals that we deserve. It is a hard place to go. They have quite good players, last week they got a boost with a good result and a good performance.
"Falkirk is a big club and they have consistently managed to finish in the top four for the last few years.
"We know that we are going to have to be at our best, it will be a real tough game. But it is a great one to go into, good atmosphere, it will be like a cup tie with both teams just desperate to go and get the win."
Peter Houston has praised his players for their 2-1 win last weekend at the Paisley 2021 Stadium but typically the Pars manager stressed that the match will be all about what his team does:-
"We don`t really worry about other teams, it is about what we do. I think we have shown that in the last eleven or twelve games. The boys are on a good run and they go into every game expecting to win. The Falkirk game is no different, we have good players, they have good players so we just have to make sure we are better than them on the day."
Dunfermline have drawn eight of their 22 league matches and the manager admitted that was one of the biggest frustrations:-
"If we turned a lot of these draws into wins we would be challenging up at the top of the league. We have not been far away but maybe that final pass sometimes or not taking the chances when they are there. Sometimes our defending has let teams back in it with sloppy goals.
"There is a lot to improve on but we are definitely going in the right direction when you look at the results and the performances over the last couple of months.
"It is a massive month coming up against teams that are in the top four places. Obviously there is the Scottish Cup game as well. We started last week with the draw against Dundee United and now we have to build on that."
Having gone eleven matches unbeaten there is little argument that Dunfermline are the form team having taken ten points from their last six league fixtures and rank third in the form table for the last ten matches. The manager attributed that to a lot of his players being on form:-
"As a team we are playing well, we look hard to beat, we look a lot more solid, we are not losing goals, we look a threat. That is all you can ask and we keep on improving.
"You know when you have players of the calibre of Gavin Reilly on the bench, and you look how strong our bench is, there are guys like Nat waiting to take your place and I am sure that it pushes the guys forward and it makes sure that they produce performances week after week.
Nat Wedderburn did really well last week. It was a really commanding, physical performance from him. He dominated the middle of the park, he was breaking things up, he was starting attacks and that is what we brought him here to do. He is in a right good vein of form just now.
"John Herron is a top player with really good skills. We have been criticising him for his lack of goals and it was a strange one that he scored with his head. I am delighted for him because he has done really well since he came into the team. Look at the results when he has played, we have won the majority of games and that just shows you how big an influence he is."
The former Celtic youth captain will be available to sign for next season now that he and Blackpool have agreed that his contract will expire at the end of this season. AJ continued:-
"You are always looking for good players and he is definitely a good player. We will have to wait and see how the season goes, it is important that he keeps focusing on the games ahead and we keep on getting good results, keep on challenging for the top of the table.
"I am sure that contracts will take care of themselves but you are always looking to sign good players. John Herron joined on the last day of the transfer window the last time with something like 15 minutes to go.
"You are always constantly trying to improve the team but you are not just going to sign players to make up the numbers. We have a lot of good young players coming through."
Several of the younger players have gone out on loan this week. Scott Lochhead has gone to Clyde, Conner Duthie has joined Stenhousemuir, Euan Spark has gone to Berwick and previously Cammy Gill went out on loan to Arbroath.
"These are Development loans so if they are not playing they can still play for our twenties. It is good for their development to go and play first team football. Hopefully they come back to us stronger and ready to compete week in week out for a place in our first team."
Availability for this Saturday`s match is only limited with the absence of Ryan Williamson and Ben Richards-Everton. John Herron has recovered well after taking a heavy knee knock against Dundee United.