On the way to the League One title this season, Dunfermline Athletic conceded 21 goals in 32 games, which was the best defensive record in Scotland. However, it could have been bettered if the Pars honed in on the vulnerabilities that were consistently exposed throughout the 2015/16 campaign.
Left – II
Centre – III
Right – IIII
Corners – III (L)
Second phase set plays – IIII (L) I (C) I (R)
Penalties – III
The data shows one consistent factor; that is half of the goals came from corners or the second ball from a set play out on the left. An aspect of the game that is easily replicated on the training pitch and can be worked on consistently throughout the season. It appears that the work did not pay off as teams exploited this weakness that the Pars were unable to hide.
An eye test of the matches shows that Dunfermline had a vulnerability when faced with a ball into the box. It came down to a couple of issues, the first being an inability to track opponents’ movement to make a play on the ball. Time after time, a well-placed cross was met by an unmarked attacker.
The other observation is that the players fail to clear the ball sufficiently and when they do, they do not close out effectively, allowing another attempt into the box for the opposition to net.
Athletic will be up against sides that train more than a few hours a week, if they are lucky. This means dead ball situations will become harder to defend. If it is not addressed, the Pars will fall short of the manager’s objectives of challenging for the top four in the Championship next season.
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