Dunfermline have now completed all scheduled pre-season games and although results in what are essentially warm-up games are not season-defining, there has to be an element of concern in the performance of the "team", or more accurately, the set of players that have played so far. Moulding these players into a team will be one of manager Allan Johnston's challenges.
Pars Review was at the 3 games that were viewable - including the "close door" game at Garscube Sports Complex in Glasgow. The only game that was not seen (or even reported on by the official DAFC site) was the 3-0 defeat at Cowdenbeath, when the Pars played mostly trialists, teenagers and players who did not feature heavily in the previous evening's game against Hibs.
The opening game, at Garscube (on the University of Glasgow grounds) saw 21 Pars players get game time, with a completely different line-up in each half, except for goalkeeper Cammy Gill, who played the 90 minutes in the absence of Sean Murdoch, who was injured. Opponents Partick Thistle fielded almost all their first team squad yet it was Dunfermline, with a stronger/more experienced first half line-up, that were more threatening, with efforts from Joe Cardle and a bad miss by David Hopkirk. Thistle won the game 4-2. Dunfermline's second goal came from trialist Filip Duris, who along with Lawrence Shankland, were informed that the club would not be pursuing any interest in them after the game. The 2 other trialsts, Michael Coulson and Cameron King, were given time on the pitch as subs in the next game, against Hibs, plus the Pars XI line-up at Cowdenbeath. They have both since left, presumably, as there has been no comment from the club about them, and they were not in the squad for the final pre-season game at Raith.
The second game, at home to Hibs, saw Dunfermline again press for a first half opener only to go behind. As the game went on, the Pars weakened, partly due to the use of 6 substitutes, although the flip side to that argument is that the use of substitutes in warm-up games could galvanize the team. Instead, it highlighted the chronic lack of strength in depth in the squad. New signing Aaron Splaine did well, showing effort and an ability to deliver long-range passes, but was withdrawn at half time after a booking late in the first half, when his natural aggression got the better of him. Hibs won the game 4-0.
By-passing the "ghost" game at Cowdenbeath, the final first team pre-season match was a derby in Kirkcaldy against the Wee Team. A truly dire 90 minutes was to follow for Pars fans, with the players looking lost and unfamiliar with each other. Raith won 3-0.
More detailed reports, with opinion, can be found in the Pars Review match reports from these games:
v Partick: www.parsreview.org/blog/match-report1091036
v Hibs: www.parsreview.org/blog/match-report2335655
v Raith: www.parsreview.org/blog/match-report1409738
The blog's "5 Things We Learned" feature also went over aspects of all 3 games:
v Partick: www.parsreview.org/blog/5-things-we-learned-v-partick-thistle
v Hibs: www.parsreview.org/blog/5-things-we-learned-v-hibs1145730
v Raith: www.parsreview.org/blog/5-things-we-learned-v-raith
The Betfred Cup game against Elgin on Saturday will be the Pars' first competitive game of the season. With the obvious need for extra bodies, and quality, balanced against the reality of the club's financial restrictions, Allan Johnston has much work to do. All the trialists are gone (apparently). Early summer targets - confirmed by Johnston - including James Keatings and Simon Murray have signed for other clubs - time spent on those players was time wasted. It has been repeated many times online, and also by the manager, that we captured certain players later in the transfer window last year. What is often overlooked when making that point is that by then, we were out of the Betfred Cup and had lost 3 of the opening 4 League games. Inevitably, the new players then took time to gel in the team, and we then lost the following 2 League games after the transfer window closed, and so gained only 3 points from the first 18 available. Lessons must be learned from that.
Here are some photos taken by Pars Review from the 3 games that were not included in the Match Photo Gallery articles for the games: