Four things we learned about: Dunfermline v Dumbarton

1) Dunfermline needs a penalty taker with a ruthless streak

The Pars netted twice from a possible six times from the spot last season. Yesterday’s effort took that tally to a couple from seven (28%), which is nowhere near good enough. At least 80% of penalties should be converted and under Allan Johnston, that is some way off and needs to be addressed.

Michael Moffat has missed his previous three including retakes which is a big enough sample size to remove him without the need for a debate about the decision.

I believe you would turn to someone like Andy Geggan or Kallum Higginbotham. The English winger’s technique is unquestionably the best within the side, and you would think that would transition perfectly to slot the ball in from 12 yards out. The captain has a Frank Lampard mentality to striking the ball, which is to smash it as hard as he can. This is a method which was effective for the former Chelsea legend, and I have no doubts it would bring more fortune for Athletic if it was implemented.

2) Concentration at the back is lacking

The goal was a prime example of just switching off and not recognising the danger. Lee Ashcroft was guilty of this throughout his 90 minutes and got a red card as a result of his short attention span.

Ryan Stevenson’s 35-yard free kick was dealt with adequately – although David Hutton perhaps felt he should have knocked it round the post. However, Ashcroft watches Robert Thomson gamble that there might still be a live ball to attack and manages to turn it into the net.

It is indicative of what has been seen regularly at the back under Johnston’s tenure, teams do not generally tend to cut the Pars wide open. Normally it is the Fifers making unforgivable errors that are repeated on a regular basis.

Another instance is the penalties: Michael Paton is lazy in the challenge, and Ashcroft is naive in his duel with Thomson. Neither of them was needed, and it was a case of not staying switched on at 4-1 with only stoppage time to play.

3) Andy Geggan sacrifices himself for the side

The majority of Geggan’s bookings come as a result of other players mistakes, and he has to cover for them. Dunfermline can lose the ball centrally as they enter the final third of the pitch and overload that area with bodies. This leaves the defence exposed and on the occasions that the ball is lost, the captain has to charge back and knock the opponent counter over and take the yellow card that comes with it.

It once again expresses the need for Nat Wedderburn to partner him in the center of the park, because he supplies a solid shield in front of the back four, and gives the former Ayr United midfielder the opportunity to play a touch further up in an attempt to influence the attack while not exposing his defenders.

A suspension to him would be a massive loss and one that Johnston would rather not occur giving how much he provides to the team on the unfashionable side of the game.

4) Getting the best out of Cardle and Higginbotham is a priority

The pair of wingers are the most creative members of the squad, and finding a way to get the best of them may lead to a more than successful season for the Pars.

Both of them could walk into any starting eleven in the Championship with the exception of the two sides expected to run away with it at the top (Dundee United and Hibernian). With that being the case, looking to get the best out of them has to be at the top of Johnston’s to-do list.

I believe, that Cardle should stay out on the left, and look to cut in at every opportunity possible, and position Kallum Higginbotham just behind the striker in a free role is what may be the best possible solution going forward.


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

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