BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
LEE Miller insists Falkirk can cope with the pressure of trying to hang on to second place in the Championship.
The Bairns moved above Hibernian with Saturday’s 2-0 win over Alloa Athletic and have the opportunity to stretch their advantage to an imposing five points when they travel to face Dumbarton this weekend.
Having been content to ‘fly under the radar’ for most of the campaign and to allow the spotlight to fall on Hibs and runaway leaders Rangers, Peter Houston’s side know they will not be afforded that luxury as the season reaches its climax.
However, Miller reckons Houston will ensure Falkirk are ready for the expectation that now rests on their shoulders having moved into the runners-up spot.
He said: “Hibs have a hard spell with their League Cup final and Scottish Cup quarter-final. They’ve got some games racking up
“That can take its toll on a squad. I know they’ve got a big and strong squad but injuries and suspensions fatigue.
“But it’s not about them, it’s about us and we need to keep our focus.
“The manager has got our heads right for the whole campaign, so long may it continue.
“The fans expect us to win these games. Hibs were expected to win games and stumbled.
“We need to be professional and we’ve got enough experience to do that.”
Falkirk are assured a play-off spot but it will now come down to whether they are able to hang on to second and avoid two extra games or be faced with prevailing over six matches if they are to win promotion.
From his time south of the border, Miller has experience of the pressures that can be brought to bear once the play-offs come around.
The 32-year-old played for Bristol City in the Second Division play-off final at the Millennium Stadium in 2004 and ended up losing to Brighton 1-0.
However, he is hopeful the Bairns will avoid the pitfalls that befell Bristol on that occasion, when the match passed many of them by.
He added: “In my first season at Bristol City, we got to the play-off final and lost to Brighton, which wasn’t great.
“There were a few injuries and suspensions and I got a chance in the final.
“It was an unbelievable experience. It’s all pressure and it’s exciting from a fans’ point of view.
“You just need to compose yourself, be calm and play your own game, like we have all season.
“I think the players will know how important it is. Myself, Mark Kerr, David McCracken and John Baird will speak to the younger ones.
“The message will be: ‘Don’t play the occasion, play the game. It’s 11 v 11’.
“At Bristol City, it was a 70,000 sell-out and there were a few of us who were a little overawed.
“The game passed us by a little bit, which was frustrating looking back on it now.”