PETER HOUSTON has backed his Falkirk side to cope with the mounting pressure of trying to finish second and the impending promotion play-offs.
The Bairns clinched the Championship runners-up spot behind Rangers and ahead of Hibs last season before knocking the Easter Road men out of the play-offs in dramatic fashion at the semi-final stage.
They then put themselves on the verge of promotion back to the Premiership when they earned a 1-0 lead in the first-leg of their final showdown against Kilmarnock.
But Houston’s outfit fell flat in the second-leg and crashed to a 4-0 loss to stay in the second-tier.
They are again in pole position to finish second in the division as they head into Saturday’s ‘derby’ with bitter rivals Dunfermline with a one-point advantage over Dundee United and just three games left to play.
And the Bairns boss is convinced he has the players to deal with the stresses and strains of the coming weeks as the campaign reaches its nerve-jangling climax.
He said: “Most of the guys were here last year and experienced the play-offs.
“With us finishing second, we had a massive double-header against Hibs. Those games went into 95 and 96 minutes, so there was pressure in those games.
“So, I think we know how to handle it.
“We had pressure, which we didn’t handle well on the last day [in the second-leg against Kilmarnock].
“But I think that was the only time last season when we didn’t cope with the pressure that well. We’ll have learned from that.
“It’s all about hitting a decent bit of form to get there and then these games will become cup finals.
“Whether we finish third or fourth, or it’s second, no matter what happens, we’ll have a lot of pressure put on us, and we’ll just need to cope with it.
“They have in the past and I’m sure they can again.”