ATHLETIC can turn East End into a “fortress” if there’s a togetherness, belief and backing from the stands.

That’s the view of Owain Fôn Williams, who, while recognising the difficulties the club is facing currently, knows that its supporters can play a big part in helping to turn the season around.

The 34-year-old Welsh international made his first league start of the season during Saturday’s defeat at Ayr United, taking the place of Deniz Mehmet, who has had a tough start to his Pars career since joining in the summer.

Fôn Williams’ former club, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, visit tomorrow (Saturday) riding high at the summit with five wins from five while Dunfermline, with one point from four outings, prop up the Championship table.

It’s a start that has led to frustration and anger among the Pars fans, and the experienced goalkeeper has called on his team-mates to show that they are united in trying to turn their season around.

When asked if the supporters could play their part, he said: “One million per cent.

“I’ve been lucky enough, and I’ve said this before, to see how our fans can be when they’re right behind the team when the team’s flying.

“I know it’s very difficult right now, I totally get that; however, we need to remain focused. We need to find a togetherness because if you’ve got those two, and a belief, then there’s no doubt we can turn this place into a fortress.

“But we do need to get everyone together and we need to remain focused on the job.

“When you’re working in football, there’s always pressure. It’s the nature of the beast, if you like. Expectation, especially at this football club, is massive. It’s even bigger than ever this season because of possibly the league we’re in, and the teams in it.

“At the beginning of the season, I’m pretty sure you would agree that you would have fancied your chance against anyone.

“Football’s a weird game; it doesn’t work like that. We’ve come up against a handful of teams now that have been really tough ones to play against.

“We haven’t had as many points as we would’ve liked on the board; that’s where we’re at.

“It’s very early in the season still, and it’s very easy to get distracted by a lot of things that are going on. We’ve got to remain focused, fully focused, we’ve got to come together.

“We’ve got to work together, we’ve got to make sure we leave everything on the pitch on Saturday and hopefully take three points.”

When asked if they needed to be harder to score against, Fôn Williams replied: “It’s off the ball that we’ve been not as strong.

“The way we try and play, we are trying to suck the opposition to areas of the pitch so we can release our more attacking players in a better area of the pitch, if that makes sense, with more room to be able to turn and take it to the opposition.

“The problem that I feel when we’ve been doing that is then we’ve been open as a team, maybe at the wrong times, hence some of the goals, for instance on Saturday, have happened.

“We work on this day-in, day-out at training and, I’m repeating myself, but when we try and release the ball, we try and release a more forward-thinking player, try and get them on the ball, so they’ve got space and time.

“By trying to do the right thing or what we’re trying to do, you are going to be exposed in different areas, just like if you were playing a different style of football. You’re going to be exposed in a different way.

“It’s just pros and cons. It’s just the way football is.”

Meanwhile, criticism from the Dunfermline fans is something Peter Grant understands and he admits that he is hurting by it.

But, while the Pars boss (below) says he has “fantastic support” from the club’s board, he knows that winning games is the only way to turn the punters’ jeers to cheers.

Dunfermline Press:

Grant, who in pre-season had stated his aim to be challenging for the title, believes how he and his squad handle the stick that has come their way will show whether they can turn things around.

“I understand the fans’ frustrations 100 per cent,” he said.

“You’d love them to come through the door and be supportive of you, of course, but I’m not going to be condescending and say ‘fans get behind us’, because I know the way you get the support is with winning games and playing well.

“If I was sitting thinking you’re out of order, or you’re this or that, then I’d have a question mark over my own head because, at the end of the day, you come to win. You can understand the frustration when you don’t.

“We’re all old enough and wise enough. We understand the criticism. What are we going to do? We expect praise for losing games of football? That’s not going to happen.

“It’s how you handle the criticism. The best thing you can get from this criticism is remember how hard it’s hurting you. I know how much it’s hurting me, so that’s why I’m saying nothing would give me greater pleasure to win games and turn this round.

“I’m sure the players are the exact same. I can only speak from my own experience – people handle it differently. I never like criticism, I don’t know anybody that likes criticism.

“I’m not going to kid myself on and say I’ve got a big shield and it doesn’t bother me. Of course it bothers me, of course you worry about your job.

“That’s life, that’s football. I want to do it right and I want to be the manager here.”

When asked if he’d been set any targets in the coming weeks by the board, Grant replied: “Every week you’ve got to win. That doesn’t change.

“As a manager, unfortunately, that’s the nature of the beast. They know how extremely hard we’re all working trying to put it right.

“That’s the great thing about them (the DAFC Fussball GmbH investors) coming over to see the work that’s going on, what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to implement on the training pitch.

“I’m delighted. I speak to them constantly; they’ve been a fantastic support. They’ve watched the games and they’re here, which is important, because I know they see with their own eyes what we’re trying to do.

“I know sometimes on the Saturday it’s not looked like that, I understand that and that’s why I can understand the frustrations of the supporters on that and everybody else.

“Support from within – the chairman and the board – has been fantastic but I know, as a manager, you have to win games. I’m trying desperately to turn that round.”