BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Allan Johnston has backed his Dunfermline side to cope with the mounting pressure of expectation as they enter the home stretch in their race for the League One title.
The Pars are bidding to win promotion back to the Championship at the third time of asking following relegation to the third-tier in 2013.
Despite some stunning form from their title rivals, the Fifers currently lie eight points clear of Peterhead in second – with a game in hand – and hold a 10-point advantage over third-placed Ayr United.
And Johnston is hopeful Saturday’s 6-1 thrashing of Stranraer is a sign his squad is retaining its focus as the campaign reaches the ‘business end’.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Stenhousemuir, Johnston said: “You’ve got to give credit to the teams that are chasing us. Peterhead and Ayr United are still getting results.
“But it must be frustrating when they see us picking up wins, and the manner we’re doing it in as well.
“We’ve just got to make sure we keep our standards up all the time. We can’t let them drop, we’ve got to work even harder and make sure we get ourselves over the line.
“We had a great result last weekend but there’s no point winning that one, and in the manner in which we did, if we let ourselves down this weekend.
“There had been some really good performances, creating a lot of chances, in recent weeks and we were a wee bit unlucky not to take them.
“So, it was great to see it all coming together last weekend and to see us scoring some quality goals.”
Meanwhile, the Pars have enjoyed some good news when defender Lewis Martin joined full training on Thursday for the first time since injuring his hamstring on the comeback trail last month.
The Scotland under-19 cap was an ever-present at the start of the campaign but, having been sidelined briefly when he was involved in a terrifying car crash in September, has not played since December 12 because of illness.
The 19-year-old looked to be well on the road to recovery but pulled up with a hamstring problem that has kept him out until yesterday.
Johnston added: “Lewis trained today for the first time, so it was good to have the big man back, especially when you’re getting to this end of the season when suspensions and injuries can take their toll. It’s good to have plenty of options.
“There will probably be a couple of knocks and there will be tiredness, so it’s good to have guys like that coming back, who have already done well for us this season and proved how good they are.”