Football: McInally reflects on the season so far

Peterhead manager Jim McInally
Peterhead manager Jim McInally

Peterhead FC manager Jim McInally took time out from a youth coaching week to outline to the Buchanie his take on League Two so far.

The Blue Toon, hot favourites for promotion before the season began, have so far won three matches, drawn three and lost two.

It wasn’t until the final day in August that the team recorded their first league win, an impressive 4-1 thumping of leaders East Stirling.

McInally said: “People have got so many theories on it.

“We could have been away clear with the league but by the same token we could be adrift.

“There have been inconsitencies not only in performance but in team selection and that’s something I always put a lot of importance on.

“Other teams haven’t been blighted with that yet but hopefully these things even themselves out and we get a run with a steady team on the park.”

A big miss for the Blue Toon has been steely defensive midfielder Dean Cowie, a player who revels in the grittier side of the game.

Cowie - unable to play for a variety of non-footballing commitments - formed a formidable with former Clyde man Bryan Gilfillan in the 2-1 defeat of Albion Rovers.

McInally described it as his team’s ‘most professional’ performance of the season yet.

“We had Dean and Gilly at Albion Rovers and then the next week we didn’t have either of them (in the 2-1 cup defeat to Berwick) and it totally weakened our team.

“I see them both as vital parts of our team.

“Dean Cowie is a player I really like because that’s the way I played - got stuck in and got about the park.

“He’s been a massive miss for us because I think when we’re having to press the game or get the ball back he’s the catalyst for that.

“He’s really hard to replace.”

The summer transfer window saw Peterhead retain the bulk of the promotion-pushing squad from last year as well as make several new aditions.

None drew the headlines more than ex-Aberdeen youngster Jordon Brown, a creative midfielder who netted twice against his former club in Scottish Week.

Since then however, Brown has show the inconsitency which has plagued the team as a whole.

McInally said: “I had a good chat to him last night. He’s been frustrated with himself.

“Aberdeen people tell you that you need to play him in a three in the middle of the park because he doesn’t do the dirty side well, doesn’t get up and down, doesn’t do his work.

“The problem Jordon’s had is that with us insisting on him doing it, he’s now trying to do it and the positive side of his game is suffering because of it.

“That’s why I felt so sad for him in the game against Clyde because he does the dirty side brilliantly, a great tackle defending his own box, falls on top of the ball and concedes a penalty. For a boy whose confidence is already a bit down, that’sthe last thing he needed to happen.

“He’s got a spot on attitude and he’s frustrated with himself but as I said to him, if you’re trying to do that dirty side of the game eventually it will come together.

“Overall I’m happy with Jordon. He took off awful quickly, scored those goals against Aberdeen and everybody thought here we go, we’ve got a superstar.

“That’s not the way it works. The real world is here and he’s adapting to that.

Another addition, though one who came in with considerably less fanfare, was former Berwick hitman Fraser McLaren.

“Fraser McLaren I’m delighted with. He’s probably better than I thought he would be, I didn’t realise how hard he worked.

“That was a big plus because I knew he was pacy, I knew he’d get into goalscoring oppurtunites but I never realised he worked so hard.

“I’m delighted with him.”

Although Peterhead have yet to fire on all cylinders - perhaps due in part to the weight of expectation laid on them as title favourites - McInally remains positive.

“Although it was brilliant we beat Aberdeen and Ross County in preseason, we became a target.

“Teams definitely come and raise their games against us.

“We’ve not coped brilliantly but we’ve not been outfought.

“For me, I’ve got to reconsider a wee bit how we play as far as conceding that extra man in the middle of the park.

“Teams are coming up to Balmoor, loading the midfield and getting a foothold in games.

“If you’re a man short in there then you have to be on top of your game and I don’t think we are on top of our game yet.”

“We’re at the right end of the table but the league is crazy.

“See a football season? It’s a marathon.

“I don’t like looking at the table unless we’re up there and that’s all that matters to me.”

But despite he suggestion to the contrary, McInally is more than aware of the state of the table with one final team to play before the first return fixtures begin.

He said: “With all due respect to East Stirling, if there was a team going to be at the top at the minute I’m glad it’s them.

“They’ve done brilliant - I always said they’d do a lot better than they did last year - but I don’t know if they’re good enough to go and win it yet.

“I think we’re just going to need to go and fight.”