Combative, composed, positive and probing, Kerr McInroy epitomised everything good about Dunfermline as they claimed a significant and historic win over Hearts on Friday night.
Once they got their noses in front, the Pars never looked like losing their lead as they ran out 2-1 winners at East End Park to go top of the Championship table and earn their first league victory over the title favourites for 16 years.
Celtic loanee McInroy was at the heart of everything the Fifers did on the night, dominating the middle of the park alongside Steven Whittaker.
The 20-year-old, making only the sixth first-team appearance of his career, battled hard and was extremely physical with more experienced direct opponents Andy Halliday, Steven Naismith and Olly Lee.
Just seconds into the contest, in fact, the Parkhead youngster launched into a thunderous challenge on Lee to set the tone for the occasion.
McInroy demonstrates potential as box-to-box threat
He won 75% of his duels and made five interceptions on Friday evening, leading his team in both categories, an important contribution in a game where Dunfermline surrendered 67% possession to the Jambos.
Crucially, he also recovered the ball well for his team, winning it back 14 times – six of those in the Hearts half to keep the pressure on.
The Pars youngster is among the top 20 midfielders in the league for defensive duels won and recoveries, demonstrating his abilities as a box-to-box player.
McInroy’s heat map shows he was all over the pitch for Stevie Crawford’s men.
And it’s been that way all season as the Pars have enjoyed an unbeaten start in the second tier.
On the other side of the coin, the Scotland U/21 star showed maturity belying his tender years to dictate the tempo and threaten Craig Gordon in the away net.
The left-footer laid on the assist for Dom Thomas’ deflected opener with a highly-imaginative flick and fired in three shots of his own.
Albeit all of them flew wide, two very narrowly, he showed great intent to effect the game positively for his side, being the Pars third-biggest goal threat on the night with 0.12 xG (expected goals).
For the campaign to date, McInroy has taken the ninth-most shots of any midfielder in the league, averaging over two per game and showing he’s not afraid to have a pop at goal.
He showed the way in successful actions, too, with 55% of everything he did coming off only bettered by young defender Lewis Mayo for the hosts.
That he was not afraid to try things made the Hoops kid stand out and, although he wasn’t the most accurate passer at 68%, he made positive balls forward.
McInroy played only two passes backwards out of 22 attempted, completing 15 in total, of which most were positive, long or forward.
Can kid fill Celtic captain Scott Brown’s boots?
It seems McInroy has a bright future ahead of him and is already benefitting hugely from getting senior minutes on loan in the Championship.
That can only be a good thing for Dunfermline and his parent club Celtic.
It’s no secret that Celts captain Scott Brown, albeit still very influential in the East End of Glasgow, is on his way out.
If he continues to perform the way he is, there’s no reason why McInroy can’t go back to Parkhead and stake a claim to be filling his boots one day as he looks of a very similar ilk.
This is a player with huge potential and, already, great talent at first-team level. He drew praise post match from manager Crawford and mentor Whittaker for his contribution so far.
Crawford said: “Kerr was a player I seen a good few years ago in a reserve game and I think he’s got a cultured left foot and, physically, he’s not frightened of the game at this level as well.
“He’s very good on the ball in terms of his weight of pass and vision.”
Experienced former Hibs, Rangers and Scotland man Whittaker was also impressed by the young prospect, adding: “Kerr was fantastic on Friday night. I’ve known about him for a while and I’m just glad he’s getting the platform to show his abilities.
“It’s just the usual, we expect that from him because we know he’s a good player so I’m sure he’ll continue to get his chance to impress.”
Those stats and comments should encourage a young man hoping to one day make an impression in green and white, even if it is still too soon.
It seems he’ll continue to get chances to shine in the black and white of Dunfermline this term, however.
Going by Friday night’s performance, the Pars need him as much as he needs them.