A Blether with Bomber
written by John Kelly, Club Reporter
The Warriors were not at their best but they produced a battling performance at Ayr, rode their luck and came away with a vital point to stay one point ahead of the Somerset Park side. They also had the ball in the back of the net twice but were denied by offside and handball decisions. It was a nervy time for all and there was much for Brown Ferguson to reflect on.
“Outcome wise we were obviously pleased to come away from Ayr with a point,” said Bomber, adding: “If you go back to the Tuesday game against Stranraer and if everything had gone against us from then, theoretically we could have been 15 points behind Ayr by the time we played them, so to come away from these three games a point ahead of them I am absolutely delighted with but it was a difficult game, we had a little bit of luck at different times throughout it but in terms of an outcome I am delighted with where we are sitting at the moment.”
Stenny needed luck but despite a lot of Ayr pressure they never buckled and showed a lot of fighting spirit, something that pleased Bomber: “The positive from the game was exactly that, there was a resilience shown, there were people putting their body on the line.
“We were fortunate in some circumstances, the one that hit the post and the bar in the last stages of the game but in general terms the defence were prepared to put themselves in and their positioning was good to defend the situation we were in and when they did breach us Greg pulled off two fantastic saves, so when they did break through he was there to be called upon and that was not for the first time this season, so that was the positive.
“The downside was the disappointment of our performance, I felt we started pretty nervy and the key message I gave to the players at the end of the game was between now and the end of the season that is going to be the sort of situation we are going to need to deal with every game, there is so much at stake in this latter part of the season, they have got to try to put that in the back of their minds and just try to focus on what they need to do.
“On Saturday I felt we did not play with a freedom, we did not play with a confidence, we were probably too worried about what the outcome of the game was going to be and as a result be were a bit clammed up. Ayr were the better team but we came away having ground out a really valuable point and that is three unbeaten, one goal against in that three, it is the type of form and, with the resilience, if we can match I hope we will be fine.”
Dunfermline visit Ochilview this week and they are not having a good run but Bomber knows it will not be easy, although he knows his players can perform against the Fifers, saying: “It is another home tie, a home tie against a team above us and against a big team. We have shown already we can go and compete with Dunfermline and compete with teams who are playing well, we have shown that with some of our results.
“I am looking forward to Saturday, if we can tweak the attacking play, fine tune that and couple that with the resilience we have shown then I am looking forward to a really good game and, hopefully, a positive outcome.”
Stenny produced some good attacking moves at Ayr but were not consistent enough up field and that is something they have to work on. However, when they did attack they looked dangerous as Bomber noted: “That again is a fairly nice sign, we did not perform at out best, we were not as fluent on the ball as we would have liked, we were not as positive in the final third yet we still had the ball in the net twice, we still had other chances to score goals and we were still a threat at times.
“You are absolutely spot on, we did not do it enough but the fact is we did not play at our best and we still created five or six good openings and opportunities. Josh [Watt] had one long range effort and there was one good chance from Scholesy [Lee Gallagher] when he came on, Paul [McMullan] had a couple of drifts into the box and something could have come from it, so we have created decent opportunities without playing particularly well and we defended really well when we had to. The ingredients are there to do really well we just need to be a bit more positive in our play when we are on the ball.”
Unfortunately McMenamin picked up another yellow card and will be suspended soon but should be available for Saturday, as Bomber explained: “No, he is fine for Saturday, it is usually 14 days from the offence.
“Saturday should be the same squad, obviously we have to reassess and see how Skip [Ross McMillan] and Hodgey are but I think it will be touch and go if I am being honest but we can only look at it day to day. Ross had a big knock in the back and Hodge has a calf-pull and the danger with that is if you push it it could go again so we just keep assessing and make a decision closer the time.”
While Stenny could be without McMillan again the other Ross, Meechan, has performed well since moving into central defence and has pleased Bomber, who said: “Ross has grown up a lot this season and in the last few games I think he has been a stand out performer, he was a bit off in the first 15 to 20 minutes Saturday but he settled down to have an excellent game.
“I think he has come on really strongly and he is a proper professional, he has a fantastic attitude and he is developing into a really strong and robust player, even at the age he is still at, so he is a very good replacement for Skip but obviously if he is available, as captain of the club some big decisions will need to be made.”
While Bomber was pleased with the point, he was delighted with the support at Ayr, with the away bus having its best turn out for a long time and many others making their own way there.
“It is absolutely great for us,” said Bomber. “It is certainly noted when we are playing but we noticed it when we were driving away from Stenhousemuir on Saturday that there was a big turn out just at the street corner waiting for the bus.
“When you see that and hear more vocal support it does make a massive difference and I think the seven games between now and the end of the season, the support from everybody is going to be crucial and give us the chance to get the points we need.
“On Saturday it was very much appreciated by myself and the players.”
A better interaction between players and fans is something very important to Bomber and he is happy with the way things are going, saying: “We are trying to make inroads to make that connection even stronger. The man of the match at home games has been very well received by the players and the fans alike I believe, I think everybody is liking that stronger connection.
“From a players perspective, when you see an increase in support and increase in vocal support with everyone shouting for you it does make a massive difference and that is something we want to try to bring to the club, it has certainly started in a positive manner and hopefully we can take it into the last seven games.”