Peterhead favourite Russell McLean is looking for his side to be more clinical against East Fife at Balmoor on Saturday.
The Blue Toon have missed their finishing edge against ‘The Fifers’ this season, having a combined 20 attempts on goal across two games, and losing 3-0 away and 1-0 at home, despite strong performances in both games.
Striker McLean said: “At the game down in Fife we did anything but struggle. The first half was the best we’ve probably played all season, they hardly got a touch of the ball. It was total dominance for 45 minutes but we just didn’t score. It is like what happened against Clyde last Saturday, we had dominance and possession, but if you don’t take your chances, you’re going to get punished.”
“Against East Fife we were 1-0 down five minutes into the second half and it finished 3-0. However, if anyone had watched the first 45 minutes and then left, they would’ve never believed in a million years that the game had finished 3-0 to East Fife.”
“In the cup tie at home, I believe it’s a similar story. We were the better team by quite a bit but didn’t take our chances. It is the same story in most of the games this season where we’ve been beat. It is probably just that final pass or shot that lets us down”.
Peterhead currently sit 7th in the table, level on points with Dumbarton in eighth, and two points below Alloa, with the Balmoor striker believing three points this weekend being crucial to push clear of the relegation spots.
McLean continued: “Looking at this Saturday, I think if we play the way we played against East Fife previously, and the way we played in parts last Saturday, we should be looking to take the three points.”
“It’s not the be all and end all as its still quite early in the season but it would be a massive three points. They would help clear us away from that bottom couple of positions and start looking up the way”.
Jim McInally’s side will be at home for the first time in almost three weeks and Russell is looking forward to using the Balmoor conditions and crowd to contribute to a strong Peterhead performance.
The striker said: “It’s always a bonus for us to be at home. Teams don’t like the travelling; teams don’t adapt to perhaps the wind and whatever other kind of factors you have when playing at Balmoor. When I was at Peterhead the first time, our home record was always very good. The fans help you, because we’re so far away it’s difficult for us to take our fans to away games but when we’re at Balmoor we get a good turnout.”
“The fans definitely help us so it’ll be good to be back up the road. It is the last home game of the year so hopefully they’ll be a strong turnout”.
Last Week out against Clyde, The Blue Toon saw a two-goal lead slip at Broadwood as David Goodwillie carried Clyde to a two all draw however Russell believes there were positives to take from the result.
The 23-year-old said: “It was massively disappointing to be honest. The way we started we were thinking let’s kick on and get another one and another one. Unfortunately, we get caught with a slack pass and you know against Clyde and David Goodwillie, any slip ups are going to get punished.”
“Although I do think everyone bar the referee agreed it wasn’t a penalty, but they got and there’s only really one outcome, he’s going to score. The timing of it couldn’t be worse, it was the last kick of the first half so we’re going into half time a bit down, a bit annoyed.”
“I think we could’ve played better in the first half but that just shows we were clinical and when we got our chances, we took them”.
“Then we go out in the second half, it’s pretty scrappy and it goes two each. I suppose any team could’ve gone we’ve just chucked a two-goal lead here, and crumble or hold for a draw but I thought after the second goal we played slightly better.”
“However, at the end of the day our final product, pass, cross, shot just was nowhere near good enough. We would get into a great position, but not get a shot away, or we have a shot and its weak or miles off target so that’s something we need to improve on.”
“If we’re going to concede two goals in a game, we’re going to have to be more clinical and score more goals.”
A personal positive for the former Montrose and Forfar frontman can be that he is now tied with captain Scott Brown for club top scorer this season, and Russell is looking to go into double digits as we approach the New Year, alongside more consistent performances.
“My personal performances I think has been okay” said McLean before adding: “I wouldn’t go any further than okay.”
“It has kind of been a bit patchy, I’d say I play well one week then a couple weeks I’m not quite as good as a could be. I’m not going to get carried away but if I can get another two before the turn of the year, I’ll be happy with ten.”
“If I get two on Saturday and win the game 2-0, I’d be happy, but hopefully we kick on and get more consistent in the season”
“I’m enjoying being back at Peterhead. It’s good being back at a club where you know what it’s all about. The group of boys that we’ve got is good. We have a couple of experienced boys who are helping us all out but overall, we’re all young so we’re all learning at the same time.”