STEVIE CRAWFORD believes his players gelling more off the pitch has played a significant part in their recent rich vein of form.

But the Pars head coach has urged them to maintain the standards they have set in racking up three successive home victories when they head to Alloa on Saturday.

A run of just one defeat in their last seven games – which came at leaders Dundee United – has taken Dunfermline to within four points of Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who occupy fourth spot and the final Premiership play-off place.

They have won four games in that run – keeping clean sheets in three of them – and Crawford gave his team Monday off after “a lot of the boys had been asked to go again and play with knocks and bruises”.

With players such as Joe Thomson and Lewis McCann pushing to come back into contention for the game at the Indodrill Stadium, things are looking up for Athletic, and Crawford said: “It’s pleasing.

“We’ve now won three games on the bounce at East End and it’s now a matter of carrying that form into the Alloa game.

“I think some people, when they saw the Celtic game when I look back at it, maybe got carried away a wee bit from outwith, thinking that was just automatically going to come to fruition in the league games. I think for people to judge the team after five, six games was very difficult because there’s a lot of gelling, with the turnover of players that we had.

“Now what we’re seeing is that the boys are starting to get to know each other as people as well. The pleasing thing from the victories in the last week has been that, in games when we’ve been on top, the boys have given themselves a platform and not got too carried away trying to chase to get that goal to put them in front, where teams might have nicked a goal earlier in the season and you’re in an upward battle.

“I think there’s a level to our performance that’s serving us well to go and pick up points.

“Alloa will be a different game, on a different surface, and we’ll work throughout the week and pick the right team we think’s going to win the game.”

Prior to beating Partick Thistle 3-0 in September, which kick-started their recent run, Dunfermline had five successive matches in all competitions and had failed to win a Championship fixture.

However, Crawford continued: “I think the players continued to give us what they could.

“They were giving 100 per cent and they’ve kept a belief. The pleasing thing for is us that, when players come back from injury and there’s competition for places, it always brings that extra week spark.

“Obviously the Ayr United game, when we came from behind to win, has been a massive boost in confidence.

“Alloa’s not an easy place to go at the best of times but we’ll go there in a buoyant mood, making sure that if we can match their enthusiasm and effort, we can go there and win the game.”

Meanwhile, Crawford said that there was no further indication as to when he may have Anthony McDonald available for selection.

The 18-year-old joined on loan from Hearts, alongside team-mate Harry Cochrane, before the close of the transfer window but has yet to feature because of a back problem.

“There was an agreement, obviously because he’s a Hearts player, we allow their medical staff to look after him,” he added.

“Kevin (Bain, Pars physio) will be in contact so the minute that they’re happy, and he’s clear to start training again, that’s when we’ll get Anthony McDonald back here challenging for a starting place.”