BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Allan Johnston admits he is thrilled to see his Dunfermline squad ‘thriving’ on the pressure of trying to clinch the League One title this season.
The Pars now enjoy a 10-point lead over second-placed Peterhead at the top of the table and can stretch that to a commanding 13 points with their game in hand at home to Albion Rovers tonight.
With just another eight matches remaining, it could be only a matter of weeks before the Fifers secure promotion back to the Championship after three barren seasons in the third-tier of Scottish football.
The East End Park hierarchy have confessed that part-time football would be on the agenda if the club is not returned to the Championship for next term and Johnston himself was only granted a 12-month deal when he took over last summer.
However, with expectations mounting as the campaign has progressed, Dunfermline have upped the ante in recent weeks as the finishing line nears.
Saturday’s 5-0 hammering of Stenhousemuir followed quickly on from the previous week’s 6-1 demolition of Stranraer and Johnston is thrilled with the way his players are coping.
He said: “They must be thriving on the pressure of being at the top of the league.
“Some people don’t respond well to pressure but the boys have shown, with their performances and results this season, that they can handle it.
“We’ve not achieved anything yet. There’s still a long way to go but we’re in a great position.
“We’ve moved another step closer, but there are still important games coming up, especially this week, with two games in the space of a few days.
“It’s important we carry on from the last two results, which have been fantastic – in terms of the performance levels and the number of goals we’ve scored, which has been encouraging.
“Hopefully we can keep that going against Albion Rovers on Tuesday night.”
Dunfermline know that as long as they keep winning they cannot be caught but Johnston knows that results elsewhere at the weekend only helped them in their quest for silverware.
With Peterhead only able to draw away to Albion Rovers and Ayr United dropping 13 points behind with a defeat to bottom side Brechin City, the Pars can put one hand on the trophy if they win again tonight.
Johnston added: “It’s a double boost when you come off and find out results have gone your way in the other games.
“I’ve always said we just concentrate on ourselves and everything else will just take care of itself anyway.
“But obviously people are telling you the results elsewhere so you can’t really avoid it.
“It’s a similar type of situation as to when I won this league with Queen of the South.
“We were lucky enough that year that the boys showed incredible consistency and scored a lot of goals as well.
“We just need to keep our standards up and keep winning.”