BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Allan Johnston has acknowledged Dunfermline’s trip to face promotion rivals Ayr United tomorrow will not decide the destiny of the title – but he is still targeting the win that will keep his side top of League One for the time being.
The Pars are desperate for a repeat of the Scottish Cup triumph they earned almost a fortnight ago when they ended a remarkable 12-game unbeaten run for the Honest Men, who have still not been beaten in the league since the opening day of the season.
The Fifers also took advantage of Ayr not playing last weekend to assume top spot in the table with a win over Brechin City.
Tomorrow’s hosts are only behind on goal difference, though, and now have a game in hand, making the pair’s third meeting of the campaign another massive encounter in the context of both clubs’ ambitions.
However, with so long still to go in the season, Johnston is fully aware it is unlikely to be as pivotal as some would make out.
He said: “We’re top of the league and obviously we want to stay there.
“So, this a big game for us and hopefully we can go there and get the right result.
“But I don’t think the cup win will have any bearing on this game.
“Obviously, it gives us a bit of confidence for this one, but it’s two good teams facing each other.
“They’ve shown a lot of consistency this season and so have we, so it’s got the makings of a really good game.
“But, whoever wins, I don’t think it will decide who’s going to win the league.
“There’s a long way to go, a lot of games to play – but obviously we would rather win it.”
Johnston won League One with Queen of the South in 2013 before leaving for Kilmarnock, so is wise to the ups and downs that can be experienced on the way to a title triumph.
The division appears likely to be a straight shoot-out between Dunfermline and Ayr, with third-placed Albion Rovers a full 12 points behind.
However, Johnston is desperate to keep his side focused on each game as just another step along a campaign that he characterises as a marathon and not a sprint.
He added: “It’s a long season and we’re not even half-way yet, which just shows you how many important games are still to be played.
“There are a lot of big games coming up, especially over the Christmas period, and it’s just important we try and get as many results as possible.
“But, obviously, it would give us a massive lift to go down to Ayr and win.”