Kyle Macdonald is living proof that practice makes perfect.
Determined to work on his final delivery in order to thrive in his new right wing-back role, Macdonald put in the hard yards on the training ground.
Repetition; repetition; repetition — he did extra work with coaches Greg Shields and Steven Whittaker, who were both right-backs of some repute in their playing days, and whipped in a swathe of deadly deliveries.
Macdonald’s hard graft paid dividend on Saturday when he claimed a stunning hat-trick of assists, teeing up each of Dunfermline’s strikers — Nikolay Todorov, Craig Wighton and Kevin O’Hara — during a 5-1 demolition of Dumbarton.
“My crosses weren’t bad,” smiled the 21-year-old. “I felt my deliveries weren’t as good as I would like them to be during the friendlies and in the first couple of [Premier Sports Cup] games.
“I took extra time in training just to work on that. If you are playing right wing-back, you are judged on balls into the box.
“I have worked on that over the last week and it definitely helped at the weekend. I must try and keep that consistency level up there.
“Normally Shieldsy [Greg Shields] or Whitts [Steven Whittaker] will come and help me and get a striker into the middle of the box just to nod them in. Of course, there is only so much they can tell me about crossing a ball in — but the more you do it, the more consistent you will be.”
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— Dunfermline Athletic (@officialdafc) July 17, 2021
On Whittaker’s influence, Macdonald continued: “He didn’t have a bad career in that position! I wouldn’t mind having a career like him. Whitts is definitely someone to learn from and look up to.”
Boss Peter Grant was effusive in his praise for Macdonald in the aftermath of the man-of-the-match showing, highlighting his ‘unbelievable’ desire for self-improvement.
The former Airdrie player is clearly a man determined to take advantage of the clean slate afforded by a change in the dugout.
“First and foremost, when a new manager comes in I have got to see that as an opportunity to get myself in the team,” he continued. ‘When I joined last January, I played a wee part in the team but I wasn’t playing week-in, week-out.
“So when a new manager comes, that is my chance to play.
“I’m working as hard as I can but in terms of numbers — our GPS tells you about high sprints, high intensity — and I’m working hard and putting myself about to try and stay in the team.”
Macdonald v Edwards
With Josh Edwards also claiming an assist of sorts for Gregor Buchanan’s own goal — the other Pars strike came from Dom Thomas, with Ross Maclean grabbing a consolation — Dunfermline have real threat from the flanks.
Macdonald smiled: “Just as long as Josh and I are doing well, that’s the main thing. But maybe we can get a wee competition going . . . I think I am winning already.”
The quality and quantity of deliveries are also manna from heaven for the trio of Pars attackers.
“They are all quick; all strong,” said MacDonald. “We have two bigger strikers [Wighton and Todorov] and then Kev [O’Hara], who is a good finisher.
“I know if I get the ball at my feet, then they know it’s coming in and will be there. It worked on Saturday — a goal each — and long may it continue.”