Dunfermline Athletic

The difference a year makes

Monday, 28th Aug 2017

"The boys have done brilliantly and the dressing room is full of confidence just now. We just need to maintain that after our result put us top of the league.

Nicky Clark made his first league appearance of the season when he came on in place of Joe Cardle with eleven minutes of the match against Dumbarton remaining.

Last season when he made his league debut the Pars had three points from four games. This season he came on with the Pars leading the league table and on their way to picking up ten points from their first four league matches. After recovering from surgery on his ankle, a smiling Nicky told the media:-

"It is my first league game. I played in the three cup games at the start of the season. I had the operation so it is brilliant to be back and scoring a goal."

The match was not really secured until Dunfermline got their third goal just three minutes from time. Nicky was delighted to have scored it:-

"Strikers always want to score goals but the most important thing was to get that goal. At 2-0 it is always tricky and with them getting a man sent off just as I came on. We knew that if they scored then they would go all for it. It was important to get the third goal and I was delighted to get it."

The 30 year old striker had an operation on his ankle to clean up a floating bone as he described it. That happened in the last week in July so Nicky has made a quick return:-

"It will take another three or four weeks to settle down but I have been running a lot. The physio Kenny Murray has been brilliant, he has helped to keep my fitness up throughout the time that I have been out.

"I trained towards the tail end of last week and got on in the game on Saturday so it is all good."

In his absence the team firstly had a success at Tynecastle and have subsequently taken seven out of nine league points:-

"The boys have done brilliantly and the dressing room is full of confidence just now. We just need to maintain that after our result put us top of the league. That was the aim at the start of the season, we want to get promoted so we just have to make sure that we stay there."

Allan Johnston has signed strikers Declan McManus and Andy Ryan, Callum Smith has stepped up from the Under 20s, Joe Cardle has rediscovered his scoring prowess, Kallum Higginbotham has been netting and a fully fit David Hopkirk is also pressing for a place. Nicky felt that it was goalscoring that had let the side down last season:-

"We never got enough goals from other positions on the park. Wee Joe is flying, that is eight already this season. Hoppy is scoring goals, Declan is scoring goals, Higgy is scoring goals and I got one on Saturday. Andy Ryan got one on Saturday too, so that is a headache and we need that in football."

Dunfermline have now scored 28 goals in their opening ten matches and Joe Cardle is currently the Pars leading goalscorer but Nicky`s one on Saturday took his tally to five. Last year he was top goalscorer with sixteen for the season and he has ambitions to lead the Fifers home again this season.

"You want to score as many goals as you can. Wee Joe is ahead of me just now but it is just great to see all the boys doing well and scoring goals. Obviously as a striker you want to score as many goals as possible so we will see come the end of the season."

Nicky signed for Dunfermline at the end of August last year after a four match career at Bury and at that stage the Fife team had won one and lost three of their opening league matches.

"Last year we were still getting to grips with the new dressing room but this year we have got off to a flying start. We have three wins from four games and we can`t complain. We need to make sure that we maintain that, keep working hard everyday and getting results on a Saturday."

So what has made the difference?

"It is a really close dressing room this year I have noticed. The boys that the manager has brought in have done brilliant, they have made a difference and we need that. It is a good place to be about just now."

There could be disappointment due to the break in the league programme for the international fixtures and the Irn Bru Cup fixtures but Nicky said that they would just take every game as it comes:-

"Obviously it`s another competition that we are involved in that we want to win. We went up to Buckie last year (in the Scottish Cup) and they made it difficult for us. We know it will be tough but it is another game that we want to win and progress."

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