BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
ALLAN Johnston knows just how special winning a league title can be – but has urged his Dunfermline players to avoid celebrating before they cross the finishing line.
The Pars can clinch the League One championship at East End Park tomorrow if they beat Brechin City and second-placed Peterhead lose at home to relegation-threatened Cowdenbeath.
Johnston admits finally securing promotion on home soil would be the perfect scenario but is desperate for his side not to lose focus of winning the match first before hoping for a favour from their Fife rivals.
The former Hearts and Rangers winger, who led Queen of the South to the League One title in 2013, said: “We can’t rely on other teams to do us a favour. We’ve just got to concentrate on ourselves.
“It’s another massive game and another step closer, against a team that’s on form just now having won their last four games. They’re scoring goals and not conceding goals, so it’s going to be a tough task.
“Knowing we can win the title doesn’t change anything. If anything, it gives the boys even more incentive to go and do well and go and win the game.
“They’re really lively, they’ve been buzzing all week, and they can’t wait for the next game to come.
“We’ve got to take that energy and make sure they produce that in the game and, with the quality we’ve got, hopefully we’ll win the game.”
Johnston added: “It would make it special if it was to happen this weekend, because I’m sure, with the chance to go on and win the league, the fans will turn out in their numbers and get behind the players.
“As a player, that’s what you respond to. That’s what makes you play better as well.
“We’ve not achieved anything yet, but I know it’s amazing to win a title.
“You can be a long time in management or playing and never win a league, so it’s always special when it comes along.
“We’ve just got to make sure we get over the line first before we start celebrating.”
Johnston was only given a 12-month contract when he took the reins last summer, with the club’s hierarchy making it clear promotion was essential this season for the side to remain full-time in the coming years.
With player contracts to be negotiated and his own position to be clarified, scooping the title at the earliest opportunity would allow future planning to swing into place.
Should Peterhead win again – or if the Fifers fail to defeat on-form Brechin – the champagne will be put on ice for another week.
But Johnston, whose side need a maximum of two more wins from six remaining matches, hopes Cowdenbeath can give their neighbours a helping hand.
He continued: “You just never know. Cowdenbeath were flying up until just after Christmas and any team in this league can beat anyone.
“So, you just never know. Obviously, they’re desperate for points, being down the bottom.
“But it’s remarkable what Peterhead have done this season, to go 19 league games unbeaten. It’s a great record, but hopefully Cowdenbeath can end that this weekend.”