Peterhead and East Fife meet today in the north-east for the right to play Second Division football next season and Balmoor boss Jim McInally is hoping that finishing runners-up to Rangers in the Third Division title race may bring his side a belated benefit in the play-offs.
The play-off final is still goalless after the first meeting in Fife on Wednesday and the Blue Toon boss reckons that, having faced the Ibrox side four times this season, his men may just have the edge when it comes to a high-pressure game.
He said: “We came across Rangers home and away and, in each game, our players coped well with the pressure that went along with those meetings. We met them in their first-ever Third Division game, when they came to our place and the game went out live on TV. The interest was tremendous and our players had to cope with that and put on a performance. They did that and came within seconds of winning the game.
“We went to Ibrox and played in front of huge crowds, twice, and won on our second visit.
“Bearing in mind this is a big occasion for us and for the people of Peterhead, with a crowd of 2,000 expected, these experiences will help.”
Any advantage, however slight, will be welcomed with McInally adding: “This game will be tight but, if we use the experience we have gained, and show a stronger element of composure, we could have an edge. I believe that, if both teams play to their maximum capability, then we will win. However, we will need to use what we have learned this season to get promoted.”
East Fife manager Billy Brown looks set to put his trust in maverick striker Collin Samuel to get the goals required to continue the New Bayview side’s five-year stay in the Second Division.
The 31-year-old Trinidad and Tobago frontman has been erratic recently but, with Gareth Wardlaw ruled out by a knee injury, Brown looks set to turn to the former Falkirk, Dundee United, St Johnstone and Arbroath player to see off the in-form Peterhead men.
Brown said: “We beat Alloa recently and then came within seconds of winning at the home of champions Queen of the South the following week. In both games Collin was sensational.
“We then played Brechin and Berwick and you wouldn’t think it was the same player. I put him on the bench for the first meeting with Peterhead and, when he came on, he looked terrific again. At this level of football there are very few teams that could handle Collin Samuel when he is playing at a high standard and we need him to show that on Sunday.”
The former Hearts and Hibs assistant manager added: “I saw Peterhead for the first time in the flesh on Wednesday and they are a good side. They play to their strengths well, which is to get the ball up to their strikers quickly. However we can win there.”