We’re just over the halfway point of the Scottish Championship season and I’ve decided to look back at the performance of the Dunfermline squad so far this season. Having started with the defenders in the first part of this report card, I’m now moving on to look at the Dunfermline midfield players.
DM/CM: Paul Paton (C), 7/10.
Arriving in the summer after being at relegated Falkirk last season, Paul Paton was immediately handed the captaincy by Stevie Crawford. It has been clear that Crawford sees Paton as the experienced head to build his young side around and Paton has seemed to thrive in the role as captain. Popular and well respected by his teammates and proving very popular amongst the supporters, Paton has adapted well to life at East End Park. On the pitch Paton has been effective as an enforcer in the middle of the park, largely focused on winning the ball back and distributing it to the creative players in the team whilst using his experience to organise those around him. Paton has his limitations as a player, especially now as he approaches the end of his career, and he can sometimes frustrate the fans. However for the large part, Paton has been a positive influence in the Dunfermline side and will hope he can captain the side to a successful second half of the season.
DM/CM: Tom Beadling, 6.5/10.
Tom Beadling on his day can be one of the best midfielders in the league. Perhaps the most frustrating player in the Dunfermline squad, Beadling has undoubted quality but has struggled to consistently show it and nail down a regular starting place. The former Sunderland man has been a fans favourite throughout his time at Dunfermline and that status was enhanced further with his goal at Celtic Park to send the Pars fans into raptures. Beadling has been in and out of the team throughout the season and has had some fantastic performances such as in the 5-1 win at home to Partick Thistle and the win down at Ayr but also equally has had a number of games in which he has really struggled such as in the defeat to Dundee United at East End Park. The Pars fans will be hoping to see more of Beadling at his best in the second half of the season, we know he has the ability he just needs to find a way to consistently show it.
CM: Harry Cochrane, 6/10.
The on-loan Hearts man arrived in the summer with an exciting reputation and I think most Scottish football fans expected the signing of Cochrane to be a big coup. Whilst I think that Cochrane is a very good player and has shown flashes of real quality, it’s hard to view his time as a Dunfermline player so far as anything other than underwhelming. In the last month or so he managed to earn his place in the side with Paul Paton out injured and did look to be a good fit in the Pars midfield however, after a very poor performance up at Dundee and Paton’s return to fitness Cochrane has dropped back to the bench. It looks likely that Cochrane will return to Hearts in January and whilst not having featured that often, it will leave a gap in the Pars squad that will need addressing.
CM: Joe Thomson, N/A.
Having only recently return to the side after being out for several months with an injury suffered last season, Joe Thomson will be hoping for a big second half of the season. Dunfermline fans were very impressed with what they saw from Thomson in his debut season and now that he has regained fitness, they will be hoping for more of the same from the former Celtic youth player.
CM/AM/LM: Kyle Turner, 5/10.
The young midfielder, signed from Stranraer in the summer, had a really positive start to the season. With the Dunfermline fans impressed with what they saw from Turner who looked like a real skilful talent with an eye for goal. However, after a positive pre-season and Betfred cup campaign, Turner hasn’t been able to reach those heights in the league. Deployed mainly in centre midfield or on the left-hand side, Turner has struggled to find consistent form, often looking very lightweight and struggling to deal with the physical demands of playing in a midfield two. Stevie Crawford seems very much intent of playing Turner regularly in his midfield and despite not being overly impressive in recent months, Crawford seems reluctant to drop Turner. It is obvious that Dunfermline have a talented player in their ranks in Turner but perhaps a spell out of the team would actually be of benefit to the youngster in the coming weeks, especially if Dunfermline are expecting him to rediscover some form between now and the end of the season.
LM: Josh Coley, 3/10.
Arriving from Norwich City in the summer, Josh Coley looked to be an exciting young player who would look to get the Pars fans on the edge of their seats this season. He started off well, impressing away to St Mirren in the Betfred Cup and at home to Dundee on the opening day off the season. Coley looked to be a pacey, tricky winger who would cause defenders constant problems. However, ever since then, Coley has been virtually anonymous and any opportunities he has had he hasn’t made a positive impression. Having recently picked up an injury and returned to Norwich for his recovery, I would be surprised if we saw Coley play for Dunfermline again.
LM: Anthony McDonald, N/A.
Anthony McDonald arrived on loan from Hearts at the same time as Harry Cochrane. McDonald’s time at Dunfermline has been blighted with injuries and in fact he has spent most of the time at Hearts recovering from injury and only just started to play for Dunfermline with a couple of substitution appearances in recent weeks. Dunfermline will be hoping to keep a hold of McDonald as he has yet been able to make an impact at the Pars and as with Cochrane, if recalled it will leave the Dunfermline squad looking very thin.
Not many great ratings for the Pars midfielders so far this season, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Paton has done well and whilst those around him haven’t been amazing, there is potential for the likes of Beadling and Turner to improve if they can find some consistency in their performances in the second half of the season. Joe Thomson’s return from injury is a big boost for Dunfermline and once he gets fully back up to speed, you’d expect him to feature regularly in the middle for Dunfermline. Strength in depth could be an issue for the Pars, if McDonald, Cochrane are Coley are all moving back to their parent clubs in January then you’d imagine Crawford will be looking to strengthen the midfield.