Dunfermline Athletic half season report card (Part 1).

Saturday’s defeat at home to Alloa marked the start of the second half of Dunfermline’s league campaign. With that in mind I’ve decided to look back at the Pars season so far and give my thoughts on the performance of the individual players, the manager and the team as a whole. Dunfermline sit in fifth place just three points off the playoff positions and as ever with the Pars there have been plenty highs and lows, so here’s my take on how the club have performed thus far. In the first part of this report card I’m going to look at the Goalkeepers and defenders and assess how the Pars rear guard have done so far this season.

GK: Ryan Scully, 4/10.

Having been brought back to the club in January by Stevie Crawford to compete for the starting spot between the sticks, Ryan Scully was seen as Dunfermline’s number one at the start of this season. It was a relatively bright start for Scully, with a number of solid, if unspectacular displays including a good performance at Celtic Park as the Pars ran Celtic close in the league cup. However things took a turn for the worse as he made a costly error at Arbroath that resulted in the only goal of the game as the Pars were defeated. Since then Scully has been in and out of the side and been unable to really assert himself as a comfortable first choice as poor form combined with a few injuries have really hampered the 27-year-old. As far as shot stopping goes, Scully is normally very good, however it has been his inability to effectively command his box from set pieces and crosses as well as a lot of questionable kicking that have raised concerns.

GK: Cammy Gill, 5/10.

Cammy Gill has definitely seen more first team action than most Pars fans would have expected this season. The young ‘keeper came into the side at the start of September and looked to have claimed the number one spot after Ryan Scully was dropped. Gill started well and looked really promising however like Scully, his run in the team came to an end after a costly bad performance. Mistakes for both goals in a defeat up at Tannadice was enough for Gill to lose his place for Scully to come back into the side and since then he’s been unable to get back in, aside from covering for Scully’s injuries. Mistakes and inconsistency are common amongst young players, especially goalkeepers and there is no doubt that the first team experience so far this season will stand him in good stead in the long run. There are some positives signs from Gill’s performances this season, but it is still clear that at this stage he isn’t quite at the level to be a reliable first choice goalkeeper for Dunfermline.

RB: Aaron Comrie, 9/10.

Aaron Comrie is fantastic. Signed in the summer on a free from St Johnstone to fill the void at right back left by the departing Ryan Williamson and James Craigen, Comrie’s level of performance has been very high. Assured on the ball and a very competent defender, Comrie is one of the first names on the team sheet every single week. Right full back has been a troubled area for the Pars in recent years with numerous different players being given the opportunity to play there but being unable to nail down the spot with any real conviction. Comrie’s consistency levels have been remarkable, almost every week he’s puts in at least a solid performance and on many occasions has been a real standout. His link up with Ryan Dow on the right-hand side has been a real threat for the Pars as Comrie has the engine to get up and down the wing to support the attack and maintain the width, allowing Dow to drift inside and provide a goal threat. If Comrie continues to impress in the manner he has done so far, there’s no doubt in my mind that there will be several clubs looking at him in the not so distant future.

CB: Lee Ashcroft, 7/10.

Recent weeks haven’t been great for Lee Ashcroft admittedly, however that shouldn’t take away from what has been a much-improved level of performance so far this season by the Pars centre half. Having lost the captaincy to Paul Paton in the summer, Ashcroft seemed to be back to his old self and looked to enjoy not having the weight of the captain’s responsibility on him. After a really poor season last campaign, Ashcroft’s performances, especially in the early part of the season have resulted in praise from supporters as well as his manager who has highlighted the improvement on numerous occasions. The improved form, combined with a Zinedine Zidane style volley which is without doubt a goal of the season contender, have made for a solid first half of the season for Ashcroft. Recent weeks haven’t been great, especially the game away to Dundee, which was a bit of a horror show, however hopefully this is just a blip for Ashcroft who will soon be boosted by the return of Euan Murray to the backline.

CB: Danny Devine, 4/10.

Danny Devine has been much maligned by a large portion of the Dunfermline support since his arrival at the club last season, and whilst I do think some of the criticism is a bit over the top, his performances so far this season have left a lot to be desired. My biggest criticism of Devine is his work with the ball at his feet, he often overplays and holds onto it longer than he should and when he does pass out his passing is often very slack and when pressed high, he often loses the ball. The undeniable evidence against Devine is that even if it isn’t always down to his personal mistakes, the defence always looks more vulnerable when he plays and sadly for me, I can’t see many positives he brings to the side.

CB: Euan Murray, 7/10.

Having joined from Fife rivals Raith Rovers in the summer, Euan Murray immediately made a positive impression and formed a very solid partnership with Lee Ashcroft at the heart of the Pars defence. Strong, quick, good in the air and comfortable on the ball, the Pars fans were naturally excited at the prospect of seeing Euan Murray this season. After an impressive opening to the season, sadly Euan Murray picked up a pretty serious injury away at Queen of the south in August which has kept him out for a prolonged period and has only returned to full training in recent weeks. His return to the side is imminent and that will be welcome news for Stevie Crawford. In fact the only reason Murray isn’t rated higher here is that we haven’t actually seen that much of him, however if he returns in the same form he started in, I’d expect him to be a standout for the Pars in the second half of the season.

CB: Tom Lang, N/A.

Signed from Clyde in the summer, Tom Lang arrived with a pretty decent reputation. Physically impressive, both with his strength and quickness, Dunfermline fans were intrigued with what he had to offer. However the Pars fans are still waiting to see what sort of player Tom Lang is. His time at Dunfermline so far has been blighted with injuries and several setbacks have costed him any real time on the pitch. Hopefully his injury problems clear up in the second half of the season and Dunfermline fans can finally see what Lang has to offer.

CB: Stuart Morrison, 6/10.

The young defender hasn’t seen much action in recent months; however Morrison was involved at the start of the season. An impressive display when he came into the defence for the incredibly tough task of facing the champions Celtic at Parkhead showed that Morrison is capable of being a reliable squad player for the Pars. He did however struggle in the home game against Dundee United which highlights the inconsistencies you get with young players. With Tom Lang and Euan Murray on the way back from injury, perhaps a loan move would benefit Morrison in the second half of the season.

CB/LB: Lewis Martin, 8/10.

Lewis is Martin is quickly becoming one of the most reliable and consistent members of the Dunfermline squad and is finally getting the admiration of the Pars fans. A superhuman performance at Celtic Park set the tone for his season, whether at left back or centre half Martin is normally very reliable. At Full back he has the ability to get forward and support the attack, driving forward with the ball at his feet looking very dangerous and in recent weeks has started to add some goals to his game as well. When moved into the centre of defence he has been solid, and Martin’s displays this season have shown signs of serious improvement in his game.

LB: Josh Edwards, 6.5/10.

The 19-year-old joined Dunfermline from Airdrieonians in the summer and has been a very useful squad player in his time at Dunfermline so far. It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for Edwards, he’s shown lots of promise and potential, in particular with standout performances away to Partick Thistle and Ayr United. However at times he has struggled and hasn’t been able to consistently earn himself a place in the starting line-up. No doubt there is more to come from Edwards, but with Murray and Land returning from injury it looks likely that Lewis Martin will move back out to left back.

Verdict:

In my opinion, a goalkeeper should definitely be the priority for Dunfermline in the January transfer window. Stevie Crawford has chopped and changed between Scully and Gill so far this season and neither have really instilled confidence in their defenders or the Pars supporters. As far as the defenders go, things do look a lot better. Comrie and Martin have been very good, whilst Ashcroft and Edwards have been relatively solid. The return of Euan Murray and hopefully the emergence of Tom Lang will provide healthy competition for places in the second half of the season.

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