Scott Booth was pleased to extend Stenhousemuir's unbeaten run and pick up three points at Methil, but, he was also realistic about things and knows the Warriors are going to have to pick up for the season's run in.
“It was a win and I think in some respects when you get to this stage of the season with three games left, a win is a win, but again, as a manager you are looking for a bit more from the performance at times,” he said, although added: “there is that issue of weighing up performances against points and if we were asked before if we could grind out three wins, I would have taken it but at the same time, I feel that if that puts us in the position where we are in the play-offs, you must ask could you then rely on another three wins to be ground out to win them?”
Booth knows that there has to be something more, although he knows the players are capable but would like to see Stenny more in control from the start. “It has to come from a strong basis, a solid platform and that is what I am striving for, so that we always have a way that we can play and can ensure a certain level of performance,” he said.
The Warriors have utilised the “get out of gaol free card” many times this season and Booth knows Stenny cannot rely on that always happening, “No, definitely not,” he said, adding “so far they have managed to come up with that and that is through their commitment and desire to not be beaten, that is excellent and it is important to have that in the locker but it can only go on for so long and we know that we have to play better.”
Many things can effect a performance and weather often plays a part, especially at Methil, but that is not an excuse Booth is happy to use. “It [the weather] was poor, the conditions were poor and did not help to be honest but, saying that, I thought the wind did die down a bit in the second half and I thought East Fife handled it better than we did.”
However, there were positives and without a full squad to choose from Booth was happy to see a couple more of the Stenny youngsters on the park, saying: “It is good, I thought both Robbie [Duncan] and Ciaran [Summers] did well, particularly I thought Ciaran did really well and that is really good for us, we have two young full backs there who are challenging for places. Plus Josh Watt on the left is still a youngster really and he is now pinning down a position for himself, it is good to see a little bit of youth in the side.”
The Warriors have a fine youth set up from the youngest of levels and seeing those players rise through the age groups to the senior team can have a positive effect throughout the club, showing the youth that they are being looked at and a place is there for them, if they can earn it. Booth agreed: “Yes, I think so, I think that is what it is all about, creating a pathway for the young players and a tangible path where they can see that the mates they played with last week in the reserves are now in the first team. That is important to me, that we create that path and it is as the old saying goes, you will have heard a million times but it is true, 'if he is good enough he is old enough' and that is the philosophy that we go with here. We have got two or three players at least like that, that we can utilise in the first team squad, I am really happy to be able to do that.”
Booth does, as any manger should, concentrate on the game in hand but as the season draws to a close it is not possible to escape the fact Stenhousemuir are on the verge of a historic season, although there is the wee matter of a visit from Glasgow Rangers to Ochilview on Saturday, although it is something the gaffer is looking forward to.
“Three games left, we take them one at a time as always and this one is Rangers, it is not difficult to know how they play but it is a home game for us and as it is a home game we will go about it in a way to try to win the match,” said Booth, who emphasised his commitment to attack at home, saying: “we don't go into these games at home looking for a draw or just trying to sneak a win at the very end, we don't want to have to do that again, what we want to do is go out and play to our capabilities and we if we perform well I think we can cause Rangers some problems.”
Comparisons between this and Stenny's first game this season against Rangers are pointless, much has changed since that awful day and Booth thinks the players should be up for it and despite what would be obvious pressure to some people, he thinks his men should relish it. Booth said: “I think it is better for the players, they see the extra stands, it is being watched by more people, the atmosphere is better and generally, if a player has anything about him then, his performance is raised as well.”
The only word of caution Booth had was not negative, just realistic, realising that in an atmosphere like that players can get carried away, although he thinks they will do well. “It is just in that heightened atmosphere being able to control your emotions and to control your temperament to allow yourself to play to your potential,” he said.
There are still a couple of players missing but Booth has a strong squad to pick from. “Eddie [Malone] is still out but he is improving, which is good, and we will find out at training how Kegs [Kevin McKinlay] is, whether he can make it back into the squad is not definite but, outwith that, I think we are fine.”
It will take a few tough decisions by Booth as he has a large squad who want to play and they definitely have the hunger for it, as Booth confirmed: "Now we are level on points with Ayr, we obviously want to put more pressure on them and we have a home match, it is against Rangers, so if you are not hungry now you never will be.”
While it takes decisions and some fine balancing to get the right combination, Booth is happy to have those decisions to make, saying: “It is always difficult when you have a squad to balance, we have a good squad and I know I can ask the subs to come on and give us something, we saw that last week with Sean Dickson coming on and scoring, they are all ready and raring to go.”
Booth also added he was pleased with the squad he came to at Ochilview and has not felt he needed, unlike some new managers, to make wholesale changes, saying: Yes I have [a strong squad] with some good experienced players in it and they still really want it and lead by example, so from that point of view I have been very lucky to come in with that kind of staff.”