Four things we learned about: Greenock Morton v Dunfermline Athletic

1) The exclusion of Joe Cardle remains a strange one

After a hat-trick and an assist in his first three Championship starts, his next few reads as: not in squad, 420 seconds, and 36 minutes. Now if he was carrying an injury that would explain his absence in the game versus Queen of the South, and subsequent cameo appearance against Dundee United. However, he has not participated in any of the following U20s games to build on his match fitness. I am not suggesting that anything nefarious is going on, but, it is puzzling that Allan Johnston would leave someone on the bench who contributed in double figures in assists and goals last season, and is not an impact sub.

2) Concentration and confidence are severely lacking throughout

This is not just stemming from this game, but both attributes are no existent at times.

In front of goals, opportunities are being snatched at rather than being dispatched with vigour. While at the back through defensive errors and just lax marking in general has handed the opposition more goals than they deserved. This is shown in the stats as well…

Dunfermline league stats:

62 shots, 26 on target, seven goals, 11.29% shot conversion.

Opponents league stats:

64 shots, 29 on target, 13 goals, 20.31% shot conversion.

3) The attacking set-up is great against part-timers, not full-time teams

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There is a disparity in the results against teams that will train four days and week, and squads that have a couple of training sessions between games if they are lucky.

Since Johnston rarely changes his tactics, and tends to only tinker with the personal when his first choices are injured. It seems to point to the style of play that is the problem more than the players themselves.

Athletic look to use width rather than push the ball through the middle, this is a change that “Magic” can make with a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3, two formations that allow protection of the backline.

In addition, it should be noted that for a team that loves to hit crosses into the box, Farid El Alagui is the only player that can go and win those aerial duels. Yet, he remains on the bench until the Pars are desperately looking to get back into the game.

4) The embarrassment of riches up front is a hindrance

Farid El Alagui, Gavin Reilly, Michael Moffat and Nicky Clark.

There has to be an odd one out. El Alagui is here until January 31. Reilly is on loan, and will return to Hearts at the end of the season. Michael Moffat is contracted till May 31, and Nicky Clark recently joined on a two-season deal.

It cannot be the Frenchman as his skillset is different to the other three. So, that leaves Clark and Reilly who were Johnston’s front pairing at Queen of the South, and Moffat, the only player that was not brought to the club by the former Rennes winger.

Now, I know you may be saying to yourself “if there were a couple of injuries to Clark, Reilly or Moffat that would leave us short up top”. However, I do not believe that to be the case. David Hopkirk and Kallum Higginbotham’s is playing as a secondary striker just off of a target man (El Alagui).

Perhaps, the best course of action is to allow Moffat to seek another team in January and negotiate an early release then look towards bringing in a centre forward on a pre-contract to fill in the gap that Reilly will vacate in the summer.


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

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