Last week’s game at Scone was an important one, not just to progress, but for the bigger picture
It was good to get the game on, like many other teams we have been a bit stop start and not had a good run of games to get that match sharpness and take the workload from training into a match day.
Again, you had to shuffle the pack
As ever, we were presented with a few selection headaches and again all for the wrong reasons. We went into the game missing Ryan Roche, Paddy Conway and Derek Paterson, so we were short of plenty of experience, add in to that Jamie Winter who had been out for six weeks, Bailey Steel who hadn’t had any sleep the night before as well as Pat Martin and Jamie Robbie, who had been ill all week. We needed to try and get the fittest of the players in to the starting line-up and decided on Jake Mair, starting his first match in around 4/5 months and Barrie Gourlay who had been away for 3/4 weeks. We changed shape to give us a bit of flexibility, as the pitch was never really going to stand up to the elements and we opted to try and get our ball players on the ball in more advanced areas.
How do you think that went?
I felt we controlled the first half to a degree although Scone worked very hard, we matched them, which was pleasing. We had several decent half chances and some good deliveries into the box, but the wind was playing havoc for both teams but we both looked to get the ball down and play. Typically for us, we conceded right on half-time in what was an error on our part and allowed a free header, which was nodded into an empty net.
At half-time, although I was angry with conceding we had been comfortable, and Jamie had no saves to make. We controlled large parts of the first half, and we expressed to the players that belief to keep playing and working hard would get our rewards but ultimately there was no need to panic.
The second half was like the first, several squandered chances from us, when a better pass or that bit of composure would have given us better openings, credit to the team though as they were dogged and stuck together even though it was the walking wounded at times in the second half. We made changes, big Ewan Buggins came on for Barrie and the big man certainly never showed any lack of match sharpness despite not playing for 4 months and carried on from a fine performance by Barrie. We introduced Mark Smith for the last 20 minutes, another guy with loads of ability and composure in front of goal, to try and change a few things. The plan worked and going into the last 15 minutes we were strong and pushing more for the equaliser, which eventually came. A good move led to Ziggy being free in the box and in the act of shooting was bundled over. Sam Simpson took the penalty and dispatched it into the corner. That gave the boys another lift, they could sense the game was there for them, we took off Jamie Winter after 80 mins, probably 20 mins more than we planned, but his experience and calmness was a massive factor in the game and how he drove the players forward. The winner came again from an excellent piece of play, we had been on the end of some contentious offside decisions during the game but they guys kept going and the second goal was well worked, the movement off the ball was first class. Bailey, who had a stormer, won the ball and played it wide, some good combination play between Ziggy and Mark Smith resulted in a great through ball for Sam who opened his body and placed a fine shot into the far corner, it was just what we deserved.
Summing up the game, in some awful conditions, I thought both teams tried to play and competed in the right manner, I felt we controlled large parts of the game and nullified any real threat from the home team. Playing with so many out as well as so few with match sharpness it’s a credit to the players and their fitness levels and you can see the intensity in training is being reflected during the latter part of the games amongst the players with some others still catching up due to that inactivity but all in all it was a deserved win and meant we kept a 100% record in the group stages.
Moving on now to a big Super League game against Fauldhouse United this weekend
Yes, we now look forward to a home game against Fauldhouse, they currently sit a place above us with three points more, having played 2 extra games. The incentive is certainly there for the squad, it’s also a chance for some of the players who played in the reverse fixture earlier in the season to try and make amends for the 3-0 loss they suffered.
Fauldhouse will be difficult and having watched plenty of footage, I know they will look to play and compete all over the pitch, as a standard we must match that and more, looking to make good choices in and out of possession.
Belief is the key and being brave to demand the ball in all situations that the game may throw up. As a team we do like to play but we also need to mix it and use our experienced players to try to dictate the game and manage it at times. We all look forward to your continued support and with both Dundee and Dundee United away from home, we hope we can have a decent crowd to cheer on the players tomorrow.