How Dunfermline's win over Hamilton showed the Pars support John Hughes' side have the stomach for the battle
The whistle had been met by a positive response by the 500 or so Pars fans in attendance. That noise died momentarily, then all of a sudden it grew louder and louder as the home players made their way to the tunnel underneath the Norrie McCathie Stand.
Even with the lead, Dunfermline still sat bottom with Greenock Morton and Queen of the South both winning. But the supporters had seen something in their players in the first half. A desire, a hunger. Manager John Hughes spoke of “courage" and “character”.
While there are reservations over some players, the Pars fans want to get behind this team and manager. They are fed up with mediocrity, of the Championship. But, as things stands with the club still bottom of the league even after the 1-0 win over Accies, staying in the Championship is currently Nirvana.
'Head on the block’
Saturday's match was massive for manager and Dunfermline after the 5-0 “embarrassment” at Greenock Morton last weekend, as Hughes described it.
After the game, he noted he had put his “head on the block” with regards to team selection.
He had made just one change from the shellacking at Cappielow, the nadir of the season. But a crucial change it was with the experience and no nonsense quality of Mark Connolly returning to the backline.
Even still, the feeling from fans pre-match was one of bemusement.
Yet, Hughes clearly has an element of faith in his starting XI and wanted to give them a chance of “redemption”.
To a man they didn’t let him down. Aaron Comrie and Josh Edwards provided width and directness as they ran up and down the flanks all afternoon from full-back. Coll Donaldson, after a disastrous debut, didn’t put a foot wrong alongside Connolly, who needs to be replaced after his loan ended. Dan Pybus and more so Matty Todd were positive and offered penetration from the centre of the pitch.
A bugbear for the Pars support has been the lack of minutes for strikers Nikolay Todorov, Kevin O’Hara and Craig Wighton, who is now back of Arbroath. Hughes has opted for Lewis McCann. The 20-year-old was guilty of being wasteful in front of goals but you can see why the manager likes his raw talents, his willingness to work for the team and be a nuisance.
‘Season starts now’
Then there was Steven Lawless. Singled out by Hughes after the match, for his work rate and ability to “duck and dive”. The left-forward position is where he will thrive, pick up pockets, combine, assist and be a constant goal threat.
For what Hughes wants to do, the current squad needs to be augmented by arrivals. But importantly, on the basis of Saturday, the attitude and mentality is there for the battle to avoid the drop.
He said: "We’ve had a hard season and after last week we had to dust ourselves down and say ‘right, our season starts now. Who is all in?’ It's body language, it’s character, it’s the way they go about their business. I’ve seen that this week.
Hughes and the fans need to see it more consistently with a four-way fight at the bottom.
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