Scottish Daily Mail
McManus in no mood for regrets this time
DECLAn McManus was left with nothing but ifs, buts and maybes the last time he was in the play-offs with Dunfermline — but is determined there will be no regrets this year.
The parallels are all there for the 26-year-old striker going into today’s Premiership play-off quarter-final secondleg against Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park.
Back in 2018, Dunfermline played out a goalless draw at home to Dundee United — the same scoreline they managed at home to Raith on Tuesday night.
Three years ago, McManus then gave the Fifers the perfect start to the return leg at Tannadice before the hosts prevailed 2-1 in a dramatic tie that left the player and his team-mates bitterly disappointed.
The fact United went on to lose in the semi-final to Livingston — who in turn beat Partick Thistle to secure promotion back to the top flight — still rankles with McManus, who is convinced Dunfermline should have been the ones winning promotion.
This time round, however, he is desperate to ensure his play-off experience finishes on a high.
‘The last time I was at Dunfermline, I was involved in the play-offs and I know how much it means to the club and the fans,’ he said.
‘I want to make sure we are going at least one step further — and all the way, if possible, this time.
‘That (2018 loss) was really tough to take because I thought we were by far the better team over two legs.
‘We created numerous chances but just didn’t take them, or do enough to keep United out in the second leg. I felt it was harsh on us to go out and it hurt a lot.
‘It affected me personally, because, although I scored at Tannadice, I missed a really gilt-edged chance. So, we were left with a feeling that we didn’t deserve to be out. It was very hard to take.
‘We were the only team that season that Livingston didn’t beat — so we would have really fancied ourselves.
‘It is all ifs, buts and maybes, but it makes me all the more determined to make the final this time.
‘We know we are more than capable of winning and, over two legs against Dundee, we know it will be tough, but we’re more than capable of getting through.’
Tuesday night’s stalemate between the Fife rivals came as something of a surprise given there had been 15 goals in the three league games between the sides this season.
Indeed, the last encounter at Stark’s Park ended with an embarrassing 5-1 hammering for Dunfermline, so their fans may have doubts about success this afternoon.
McManus, though, believes they can win and progress.
‘Maybe people have forgotten that we beat Raith 4-1,’ he said referring to the clash at East End Park in February.
‘Our 5-1 defeat was a really bad night all round and a lot went wrong for us.
‘When that happens and you are playing a good team, they are going to beat you — and beat you comfortably. That’s exactly what happened.
‘Although they played well, I think we gave them the platform to beat us like they did.
‘Against Raith on Tuesday we were a lot more organised, harder to break down and, when we got the ball, created three or four very good chances.
‘So we’ll now be taking that performance into the return leg and we have every confidence in ourselves.’