BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Andy Graham admits he is revelling in the pressure of a promotion push with Ayr United after getting used to the stresses and strains of a relegation battle with Dumbarton.
The big defender left the Sons back in August and has since featured 15 times for the Honest Men.
The Somerset Park side are desperate to cling to the coattails of league leaders Dunfermline after a costly spell of just one win in five league games over the festive period.
Graham insists there can be ‘absolutely no excuse’ for Ian McCall’s side, who returned to form with a 3-1 win over Albion Rovers last weekend, as they bid to piece together another lengthy unbeaten run.
And the 32-year-old, who spent three seasons fighting to keep Dumbarton in the Championship, is thrilled to have such a positive goal to aim for this time round.
Graham said: “I’m enjoying my football. It’s good to be playing again and it’s good to be involved at the top end of the table for a change!
“It’s great trying to go for promotion, rather than fighting it out at the other end of the table with Dumbarton.
“It’s different, that’s for sure, but I’m really enjoying it.
“Hopefully we can stay up there. The play-offs were the minimum target at the start of the season and hopefully we’ll be in a good position to do at least that.
“The manager’s demanding wins from the players, and rightly so because we’ve got a squad that showed, when we went 14 unbeaten, that we’re capable of doing it.
“There’s absolutely no excuse for us not to do it again.
“And I like that pressure, it’s much better.”
After today’s home clash with Stenhousemuir, Ayr host third-placed Peterhead and then travel to face Dunfermline in Fife.
It is the kind of spell that could prove pivotal if the Honest Men are to maintain their challenge to the Pars at the top of the table.
But, with the chance to cut the gap at the top to just four points, Graham knows today’s encounter is just as important as the ones that follow.
He added: “All we can do is take care of ourselves. Dunfermline have got a lead at the top and it’s up to them to keep it.
“The only way we can make a dent in it is by making sure we do our job, and that’s what we’ll be focused on against Stenny.
“Peterhead are absolutely flying at the moment and playing really well, and they’re coming to us next weekend – and then we’ve got Dunfermline after that.
“That just adds to the importance of getting three points in this game. If we don’t get the result we want in this game the other ones won’t be as pivotal as they could be.
“That’s what we want, for those games to be important, and to do that we need to get the right result against Stenhousemuir and hopefully get a bit of momentum going into those games.”