Coughlin: ‘Clean sheet is vital going forward’

Berwick boss John Coughlin has registered his belief that the clean sheet acquired in Berwick’s victory over Cowdenbeath last weekend will be just as important as gaining all three points going forward into future games.

Kevin McKinlay has been a regular in the 'Gers team so far this season

Kevin McKinlay has been a regular in the ‘Gers team so far this season.

“In terms of the confidence of the players and the way that we play, I think it’s just as important as getting the win. After a failed attempt at trying to be a little more attack-minded and to play with a little more creative freedom, we went a little bit more ‘back to basics’, utilising a style similar to that which we employed last season to a certain extent.

“It looked as though it’d take a bit of time to adapt to the more aggressive style, but it’s time we don’t have in this league because it’s vital we get off to a good start. Reverting to a more familiar system, we managed to get the points and return to the top four again, which is very important for us.

“The defensive display, along with the grit and determination shown by all of the players was something for all of our travelling support to see, and I think that served us superbly in gaining the result and clean sheet.”

One defensive area of the team that has came in for criticism from some sections of the support during the period in which Coughlin opted for a more attacking tactical set-up is down the ‘Gers flanks.

Coughlin however revealed that his change of tactics on Saturday affected the role of Berwick’s wide men quite heavily, reserving special praise his full backs and the returning Graeme Beveridge.

“We basically told Graeme and Kevin (McKinlay) not to attack. When we’re at home, we can maybe afford to be a bit more of a different team. We have the fans behind us, we’re under pressure to push on and in some ways, we’re the side that has to try make the game.

Graeme Beveridge returned to the starting XI and looks set to keep his spot in Montrose tomorrow.

Graeme Beveridge returned to the starting XI and looks set to keep his spot in Montrose tomorrow.

“So when we’re at Shielfield, as the side generally responsible for pressing more I think you’ll naturally see our full backs or wing backs playing higher up the park. But when we go away from home, we tend to alter that and instruct the guys to sit in a little more and really pick and choose their moments to support an attack.

“I thought that Graeme, who came in on Saturday having not started a game in a long time did that really well. During the game we switched between a back 5, a back 4 and a back 3 – we basically did whatever it took to remain secure at the back, so we’ve got the message through to the players, and I felt our full backs were instrumental in keeping the game tight.”

Offering some insight on how he’ll take the positives of the Central Park performance into tomorrow’s trip to Montrose, Coughlin explained that he will be hoping for more of the same from his side.

“I think we’ll take that exact approach into tomorrow’s game, too. We’re going back to what we know and what appears to be most comfortable to us as a squad. It will be important for these guys to get their role right again.

“There are different roles for our full backs and wing-backs on any given day, but I think we’ll see a similar approach from the guys I select tomorrow.”