A fully deserved win that puts us in a great position to win our Betfred Cup group. Of the 2 teams, Dunfermline looked more like the top flight side, and with better finishing would have won more convincingly. The Pars' game management, organisation, workrate and shape were all of a very high standard. It was a great example of how to play on the break, counter-attacking effectively while also maintaining a solid defensive unit that restricted Dundee to a couple of chances that brought out great reflex saves from Lee Robinson.
Lining up with the same starting 11 that defeated Peterhead in the opening group game on Tuesday, there was a slight tweak in formation with Louis Longridge playing just off Myles Hippolyte rather than beside him as a pair. The 3-5-1-1 worked perfectly; as mentioned above, Lee Robinson made 2 great saves that tested his athleticism - fortunately we have one of the most agile keepers in the country. The 3 central defenders (Lee Ashcroft, Mark Durnan and Danny Devine) played as a unit and adopted a no-nonsense approach to defending - making clearances quickly and effectively, no dithering on the ball and no taking unnecessary risks. Both wingbacks were involved in our goal - Ryan Williamson with a trademark bombing run down the right, putting over a pinpoint cross for left wingback Jackson Longridge who rose and powered a header into the net after 2 minutes.
In midfield, James Craigen, who never has what could be described as a bad game but often drifts around without contributing much of substance, was far more effective today, driving the team forward. Joe Thomson was a busy worker, in a Gary Mason-type role. My man of the match was the rejuvenated Kallum Higginbotham, playing on the right of the midfield 3, the team's most experienced outfield player. He produced a mature performance, playing like a captain - his attitude could never be called into question but he has found a composure that is of a huge benefit to his younger team mates.
In attack, Louis Longridge played a tremendous pass to Myles Hippolyte for what should have been the Pars' second goal. Hippolyte was often in the right place but his display suggested he is not a natural finisher. This was the one area of our play that could have been much better - we should have been more than one goal ahead at half time and although Dundee came more into the game in the second half, we still had chances to go further ahead that we did not take.
This performance has set an early season benchmark of what we are capable of. I am confident that we can improve even further and with the addition of Tom Beadling, Faissal El Bakhtaoui and James Vincent we will have even more options. We can be optimistic for the season ahead and with a more clinical edge we will be a very difficult team to beat in the Championship.
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