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Hard work ahead as new season looms

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Chris Jardine | 12:31 UK time, Thursday, 8 July 2010

That's now three pre-season games under our belts and the aches and pains are most definitely kicking in.

I've started all three matches and overall I've been pleased how things have gone on a personal level but as a team we have a lot to work on before the real stuff begins.

I'm sure we were expected to win our first two games and we did just that with comfortable victories over Dalbeattie Star (3-1) and Penrith (6-2) away from home.

It's normal for teams to begin pre-season games against "lesser" opposition and I mean no disrespect to either of the sides we faced. From there it's a progressive build up against tougher opposition and we certainly got that against Queen of the South at Palmerston on Wednesday night.

Unfortunately, we lost 4-1 but I felt that might have been a little harsh on us and didn't really reflect the game before both teams made the inevitable raft of changes.

Pre-season games can be a bit frustrating at times. It's all about getting match fitness and that means using a lot of players over the course of a match but the substitutions obviously disrupt the team and it certainly upset our performance.

andyaitken595.jpgWe actually went 1-0 up early in the first half and although we lost two goals just before half-time we were quite happy with the way things were going and felt we could get something from the second half.

Queens might have had the majority of possession but they rarely played through us so we weren't really troubled. We made changes at half time then a further two immediately before we lost the third goal and the fourth when we were down to ten men after an injury to David Cox when we had used all our replacements.

Fitness, match-sharpness and gaining an understanding with your team-mates are the main aspects of pre-season but we can take other things from the game despite the defeat.

The one thing we were disappointed with, or the four things I suppose, was the goals we lost. Every one of them came from exactly the same area and all were preventable and caused by our mistakes. We spoke about it after the game and fully intend to rectify things by working hard in training.

Our manager, Harry Cairney, has been away on holiday for the three games that we've played so Andy Aitken (pictured above) has been taking the team.

I've been very impressed with him in both a playing and management sense and he will be very important for Harry and the team this season in both roles.

He has come in as player/assistant to replace Derek Townsley and I think he will prove just as popular with the players as the big man did. He's already shown us that he won't miss anyone if they step out of line and he has held his own hands up if he has underperformed.

He is an honest player who talks to his team-mates throughout the game and I've already found him a great help when playing in front of him in midfield. You can't really ask for any more.

We've now got Holland versus Spain to look forward to in the World Cup final on Sunday and surely every neutral football fan is absolutely delighted with that.

You would have struggled to hand pick a better match to finish off the competition and I can't wait to see what's in store for us.

I still don't think either nation has been firing on all cylinders yet so hopefully they're both saving their best for Sunday. It's a hard one to call but I'm going for Spain to shade it even though I backed Holland before the tournament began.

Then again maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part because I'll kick myself for not backing up my prediction with hard cash!

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