Manager Jim Duffy saw Saturday’s pre-season friendly victory against Stenhousemuir as another positive step in the right direction as his side attempt to adapt their game ahead of next season.
The Ton boss has implemented a 4-3-3 formation in pre-season as he explores different ways of playing in an effort to add more of a goal threat.
He set his team out in that system at Ochilview in their first public outing of the summer and they recorded a comfortable 3-0 win, leaving Duffy pleased with the progress his players are making.
He told gmfc.net: “I’m happy with the way things went. You’re not going to be ecstatic about everything – and you don’t want to be. You’re trying to move forward in stages, and there were some good things today.
“We’re looking at difference ways of playing. Traditionally in the last couple of years, we’ve played 4-4-1-1, but this year we feel that with the players we have, we are trying to have more of a goal threat.
“So we are looking at a 4-3-3 and having an extra forward on the pitch, but with that you need the balance – and it’s not something we’ll do in every game.
“The important thing is having options of going that way. We’ve looked at it and worked at it in training, and I think with the ball it was actually pretty good.
“Without the ball, there are little things to work on, like who picks up the oppositive full-back and who picks up the runners, but at this stage it was encouraging.
“We maybe tried to overplay at times. We’re encouraging the players to change it slightly by taking a little bit more risk on the ball and link up a bit more.
“But we took it too literally today: we were trying to pass out from the back at times when it wasn’t really on and the you end up taking too much of a risk.
“So it’s about decision making; we have to understand when it’s on to play and when it’s on just to get it up the pitch and play in the final third.
“At this stage that’s what it’s about, the players picking up information and making positive strides forward, and we created a good number of chances.
“We scored a good goal in the first half, had one cleared off the line when Bob McHugh anticipated a mistake, and got sharper as the game went on, scoring a couple more and forcing a couple of good saves in the second half.
“It was actually quite a tricky game, because it was blustery with a swirling wind and Stenhousemuir worked hard, closed us down and pressed us high. That made us work, and that was good. It’s exactly what you want in these type of games.”
New strikers Bob McHugh and Robert Thomson both netted on their first official appearances, and Duffy was pleased to see them open their accounts.
He added: “It was good for Bob and Thommo to score in the first open-door game. It was a terrific strike from Bob, and I thought it was a great header from Thommo.
“Because there was no real pace on the cross, so he’s had to maneouvre his positioning and get the power in the header to redirect it back across the goal. I thought the two of them did really well.
“Then young Ben [Armour] came on, and it’s always good for a young player, and, again, I liked his goal, because it was a reaction to the ball hitting the bar.
“A lot of times in the past we’ve had players watching these types of situations and not gambling, and he gambled and got his reward.”
The only downside was an early injury suffered by teenage left-back Lewis Strapp, and Duffy explained: “The negative was young Lewis getting a head injury.
“He’s got concussion and has had to go to hospital. Hopefully it’s not nothing too bad, but he was quite shaken and quite disorientated.
“It was almost like a whiplash effect. It wasn’t the challenge, it was actually the boy sort of accidentally landing on top of him and his head and neck jerked. Hopefully he’s okay.
“That was the only negative side of the game; everyone else came through the game fine, and we’ve still got players to loook at.
“Lee Kilday, Thomas O’Ware, and Jai Quitongo – if we add them to today’s squad then it gives us more options and different ways of playing, and as long as we get the balance right, we’re confident we can keep moving forward.”
Images: Ross Cameron