Falkirk manager Peter Houston insists there is no chance his ‘fearless’ Bairns will lose their bottle in the race for second after admitting that they are not faced with the same pressure as Hibs.
Houston’s side, who have played two more games, will extend their lead over their Leith counterparts to six points if they collect a second league victory over Rangers tomorrow night.
And with a trip to Easter Road to come on April 15, Houston is adamant that his team will embrace the challenge of trying to avoid an additional play-off tie by finishing runners-up in the Championship.
Houston said: “We went to Tyencastle at the start of last season and were drubbed 4-1, some of them froze.
“But because we’ve played bigger matches, they have improved in being able to handle our bottle – making sure they can cope with bigger crowds at places likes Tynecastle, Easter Road and Ibrox.
“Come the run-in, we’re looking forward to it rather than fearing it.
“If I’m being honest, third is where I was targeting at the start of the season but now we’re in a position we can get second, we have a group of players that believe they can do it.
“It’s huge to finish second, I’m not going to deny that. It’s two less high pressured games.
“I believe with the pressure that’s involved in these play-off matches over two games, we can do all right in them because I think our players have handled the pressure of bigs games over the past
“Our fans expect us to be in the play-offs but it does not mean they think we can’t beat Hibs or Rangers every time we play them.
“There is more pressure when budgets are higher, when teams have more fans. Hibs have more fans than us and Rangers have more than Hibs. The expectations become greater the higher you go.
“Our expectations from our punters were to get to the play-offs but I think now they’re to finish second – that’s the nature of the beast. Our expectations levels as a group is to get up.”
Falkirk beat Rangers 2-1 at home in December and Houston is hopeful they have the quality to mete out another defeat to Mark Warburton’s side.
He added: “We had a cracking match last time and people are asking me if we can beat them this time? I don’t know the answer to that.
“At the game at Ibrox recently we conceded a last minute goal to lose 1-0.
“I felt they created very few chances and thought we deserved at least a draw.
“We have to look at Friday’s game totally differently. We’re facing a Rangers side that are playing really well just now, they’ve got good quality and good performances from the likes of Kenny Miller, he’s scoring goals and using his experience.
“I can’t wait for the game, I think it’s going to be really tough but we’ll give it our all.”