STEVIE CRAWFORD has issued a rallying call to supporters to turn out in force and back Athletic – and believes they’ll be rewarded with passionate performances.

After a successful Betfred Cup campaign, which has been rewarded with a money-spinning last 16 tie at holders, and Premiership champions, Celtic, the Pars begin their Championship campaign against relegated Dundee tonight (kick-off 7.05pm).

The televised clash at East End marks the start of a first full league season in charge of his hometown team for Crawford, who overhauled his squad radically in the summer.

As 16 players departed, 11 new faces arrived and, in their four competitive matches so far, Dunfermline have hammered home 13 goals and, ahead of welcoming the relegated Dark Blues, their head coach insists support from the stands will be crucial in helping them enjoy a successful season.

“I want us to be competitive, and I want it to be seen that people coming to watch us can turn round and say we gave it every bit that we could,” Crawford said.

“We need the fans. That’s not to say we’re reliant on the supporters making sure the players go out and give their best every week – that’s also the responsibility of the coaching staff and the players – but I’m asking the supporters please, get behind us.

“It has a really good impact on the players that, when we’re being tested in games, you get a feeling on the football pitch that the supporters are behind you.

“I think we’re slowly getting a confidence back from them, that they know the boys are out there giving their best efforts.

“Progressing in the League Cup brings a bond with us and it’ll bring an excitement going into the Dundee game.”

He continued: “The objective was to get out the group and I’m happy we’ve managed to do so going through as winners.

“It’s good for confidence and you see the rewards in terms of an away fixture to Celtic, which will be a very tough one for us, but one we can go and look forward to.

“But we’ve got to focus on the league at the moment and not get carried away. Having watched Dundee against Inverness, I thought they deserved to win it. It will be a tough game for us.

“There will be difficult periods but, if we stick together, we’ll hopefully come away with the result.”