A poor season ended in a predictable whimper yesterday with the Pars team going down to yet another defeat, saved from automatic relegation by 3 points, having gained 1 point from the final 8 League games. No one will be sad to see the back of this season, which began with much promise but had fallen apart months ago, with a collection of empty shirts taking the field, playing a style of football that was awful to watch. Even with nothing to fear yesterday, we played with one up front, with only Kallum Higginbotham emerging with any credit.
Line-up and formation
Ryan Scully (virus) was replaced by Cammy Gill, starting a League game for the first time for Dunfermline. Also making his first League start was Stuart Morrison, in a defensive midfield role (where he has played the past few reserve matches), as James Vincent had picked up an injury in training during the week. Morrison, who has played mainly as a centre half for the reserves, was joined by Lewis Martin, making his first start in a competitive game this season. Danny Devine was deployed at right back, meaning we began the game with 5 central defenders on the pitch, 3 of them playing out of position. Kallum Higginbotham came back into the team on the left wing, with James Craigen and Ryan Blair in central midfield, and Louis Longridge on the left. Bruce Anderson, whose previous appearances as a lone striker have seen him isolated and ineffective, was up front on his own, a tactic destined to fail.
Starting 11, in a 4-1-4-1 formation:
Hosts Inverness were already secure in the top 4, but looking for a win to overtake third placed Ayr United and so gain home advantage for the second leg of the play-off quarter final. Not surprisingly, the game lacked any real competitive edge, with one set of players looking ahead to the play-offs and the other towards a beach. Kallum Higginbotham has had a frustrating season but can never be accused of lacking effort, and he was by far the team's best performer yesterday, playing to a higher standard than in recent months, and unlucky not to score when his shot from the inside left position was tipped round the post by Inverness keeper Mark Ridgers. Higgy also showed some effective trickery on the wing, sending in crosses that no one took advantage of.
In stark contrast, Ryan Blair in midfield looked completely disinterested. Louis Longridge was another figure who contributed nothing. Even the squad of 2014/15, who finished seventh in league 1, provided more effort and goals than this collection of hoaxers. They have not been aided by the negative approach from the dug out, and we end the season with less goals scored at home than any other team in the whole SPFL. We have failed to score in 6 of our last 8 games.
The game's only goal came in the 35th minutes after errors by Morrison and Gill. Morrison's pass back to his keeper was at chest height and Gill's attempt to chest the ball down fell to Nathan Austin, who had the simple task of shooting into an unguarded net.
I take no pleasure in writing critical reports. Football is something to look forward to all week, a break from real life, win, lose or draw. The standard of play this season will surely not be repeated in 2019/20. We need spirit and attacking intent and a new set of players with a stronger mentality. The manager has to set his team up to win, not to contain. His summer rebuild will dictate his future, and that of the club.