BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Allan Johnston is desperate to be able to dedicate a Dunfermline victory tonight to a loyal supporter who passed away last weekend.
John Coupland, a dedicated 65-year-old who followed the club home and away, died after falling ill on the Lizzie Pars supporters’ bus on the way back from Saturday’s goalless draw with Peterhead.
Johnston spoke of the Fifers’ loss yesterday as he prepared his squad for tonight’s live TV encounter with Airdrie and is hopeful his players can pay tribute to Coupland and his family on the pitch.
He said: “I’m sure we’ll have a big crowd and hopefully we can get the win, especially after what happened to one of the supporters after the Peterhead game as well.
“Our condolences go to his family and hopefully we can get a win for him because Dunfermline was obviously a big part of his life.
“It’s never nice to hear of something like that happening.
“I’m sure if he was still here he would have been desperate for us to get a win for him and his family.
“Hopefully we can do that.”
Friday night football
Dunfermline played once on a Friday night last season, when they won 1-0 away to Ayr United in October 2014, and Johnston is generally supportive of the switch.
He added: “I think Friday night football’s good. If you saw a lot of the games last year, whether it was Premiership games or whatever, I think they always attracted good crowds, even though they’re on the telly, and there’s always a good atmosphere.
“Playing at night is always good for the players; I always enjoyed playing night-time games for some reason.”
Dunfermline lost two points of their lead over Ayr United on Saturday when they were held by Peterhead but could still stretch their advantage at the top to 10 points with a win this evening.
Without the services of striker Mickael Antoine-Curier and defender Marc McAusland, who have both left the club in the past week, the Pars will still be favourites to go on and land the League One title and passage back to the second-tier of Scottish football.
And Johnston remains confident in his players’ ability as they seek to extend a 15-match unbeaten run in the league.
He commented: “We want to get back to winning ways, but if you look at the unbeaten run we’re 15 games without a defeat. The boys have done fantastic.
“Peterhead is a difficult place to go to and we had the better chances and their keeper had the better saves.
“But we still know we can play better than that and I’m sure we will on Friday night.”