1) Nat Wedderburn is a more polished Ben Richards-Everton
The comparisons between Richards-Everton and Wedderburn stretch further than them both being English and towering defensive units. Numerous times last season the centre-half launched the ball from back to front in an attempt to find an attacker. While the vision was there for what he wanted to achieve, he does not have that ability to play those intricate passes in behind defenders. On the other hand, the newly acquired holding midfielder hits the mark with constant success. While nothing fancy, his eagerness to play the percentages and find his man is refreshing to see in a Pars shirt. You also get the sense he is not moving the ball for the sake of it; it is with the purpose of giving his more creative teammates the chance to get into the match and produce a chance for the attackers.
2) A clinical Michael Moffat spells danger to opposition defences
In his last two seasons at Somerset Park “The Moff” scored 47 times in 74 games, a return that seen the Pars bring him to the east coast. In his first campaign – which was dismal for everyone at the club – his return was six goals in 41. However, under Allan Johnston, an improvement was made as he netted on 15 occasions. The centre-forward made sacrifices to facilitate Faissal El Bakhtaoui and the only criticism that could fairly be leveled at the former Girvan attacker was the number of chances he spurned in the box. On Tuesday, the opportunities to score were meat and drink for any professional striker, but they were occasions that he had been passed up in previous seasons. Moffat’s 10 goals from open play last season needs to be replicated once again if Dunfermline is to finish fourth in the Championship. If he is allowed to play off the shoulder of the defender, and play in between the goalposts, it should be feasible.
3) The Pars bench will always have a game-changer on it
Kallum Higginbotham and Paul McMullan had just short of half-an-hour to show a glimpse of what they have to offer in a Pars shirt. Higginbotham was busy and eager to impress having only signed the day previous, and it was his sumptuous cross-field ball to the on-rushing Ryan Williamson in the lead up to the third and final goal that showed what flair the former Kilmarnock attacker has.
McMullan’s pace is electric, and while like Higginbotham needs some to get his match fitness up, you can see how he will have the opposition full-back out of position constantly with his speed. This was displayed when he was just outside the penalty box and fell victim to a poor challenge by the Arbroath centre-back purely because he was too quick.
David Hopkirk and Michael Paton have still to return to the side have been absent through injury, and again both players have something to offer in the attack that does trouble any defence at this level. Without a doubt, the plethora of options both on the field and on the bench has improved over last season.
4) Ryan Williamson positioning may become the Fifers Achilles heel
Williamson was nominated to the SPFA League One Team of the Year in his debut season, three campaigns ago. In that short time since he has suffered two relatively serious leg injuries that have disrupted his career. Yet, he looked better than ever on Tuesday night as he hit the byline and cut the ball back into the box. Now while going forward he is a wonderful talent, defensively he leaves the Pars fragile when an enormous barren patch on the right flank appears. This forces Lee Ashcroft to go out to meet the danger and Wedderburn to fall back in his absence. It is a fine balance that has to be addressed as at this level Athletic can be found out with their naive defensive shape, and will be exploited by teams looking to hit on the counter with fast wingers.
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