BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
As is natural for any goalkeeper, Sean Murdoch is determined to clock up as many clean sheets as possible – but insists he will take any sort of victory for Dunfermline as their race for the League One title reaches the final stretch.
The Pars number one and his defence have already made history with their miserly displays this season. Back in November, they set a new club record for league shut-outs before their parsimonious stretch was brought to an end after 633 minutes against Albion Rovers.
With 13 clean sheets to their name this term, Murdoch believes it is a record that is all the more remarkable when the injuries that have blighted the Fifers’ rearguard are taken into account.
With Callum Fordyce, Ryan Williamson and Lewis Martin all spending long spells out injured and Marc McAusland having left last month after being recruited as cover, manager Allan Johnston has been forced to field nine different defenders this season.
Murdoch is fully aware of the importance of staying strong at the back as they enter the final 11 matches of the campaign with an eight-point lead over Peterhead at the top of the table.
However, with Stranraer the visitors this afternoon, the 29-year-old admits victories are the focus, no matter how they are achieved.
He said: “I think defensively we’ve been pretty solid all season. We’ve not shipped too many goals and hopefully the fans that have come to most of the games will have noticed that as well. We’re pretty solid at the back.
“The management team always strive for clean sheets, and I always strive for clean sheets as well, because that’s the solid foundation you need.
“It always builds a good base for us because the guys up top do score a lot of goals – there’s not been many times we’ve not scored in games.
“We know if we can keep a clean sheet we’ve got a really good chance of winning the game.
“I’ve had 13 clean sheets this season, which is the most I’ve had and it’s a good record to have. If we can get some more on the board that would be nice and we’ll give it our all.
“It’s about winning games now, so if we can keep clean sheets in 50 per cent of the games then I’d be happy with that.
“But the three points is all that matters. It doesn’t matter if we win 6-5 or 1-0, as long as we get those three points, that’s the most important thing.”
Dunfermline maintained their lead at the top of League One with a 2-1 victory over Brechin City last weekend, but it was not as straight-forward a win as it may have been.
After taking a sixth-minute lead, the Pars were pegged back by Robert Thomson’s equaliser before sealing the three points with a Ben Richards-Everton finish shortly before the break.
Murdoch added: “No disrespect to Brechin City, but I feel as if we should have been 5, 6, 7-1 up. And when you don’t take your chances you’re always vulnerable.
“To be fair, we dominated the game – but we ended up just hanging on. It was a weird game.
“At the end of the day, we got the three points and the three points is all that matters at this critical stage of the season.”