Difficult winter ahead if Toon to maintain play-off position

Peterhead manager Jim McInally
Peterhead manager Jim McInally

Without an away win since August, the Blue Toon are facing a difficult winter if they are to maintain their position in the play-off places, their next trip taking them to Ibrox as first meet fourth in the Third Division.

Rangers, who demolished last season’s Third Division winners, Alloa Atheltic in the Scottish Cup over the weekend, were held at the start of the season by Peterhead at the Balmoor, but, since then, have been flying high as they begin a journey to regain their place in the Premier League.

Peterhead, meanwhile, have only won once in their away travels since their four-goal thriller with the Third Division new boys, but, remarkably, still find themselves in the top-half of the table, just four points adrift of Rangers in a division of generally poor away form, the top four recording just seven wins away from home.

It is not all doom and gloom at the Blue Toon, however, as manager Jim McInally explained to the Buchan Observer.

“I feel as a team, last season, we finished well.

“This season, with Rangers coming in, it’s been a crazy time for the Third Division – I didn’t know what to expect,” he said.

The Blue Toon boss was positive, however, that there was more to come from his play-off contenders, saying that although the Toon may be underachieving “there’s a long way to go for us, we can improve.”

Making the Balmoor a fortress, in light of the Blue Toon’s away record, was a way to do that, McInally alluded to, adding: “We need to make sure our home games are games we’re winning.”

The Rangers game would be a different animal, however.

“I want us to be stuffy, to play with a lot of concentration and discipline. (Rangers) are not really a Third Division side.

“We’re going down there knowing that we’ve got good enough players that we can maybe steal something.

“The big thing for me is to see how the players stand up playing in front of 45-50,000 people. That will tell me a lot about them,” the manager said.

Regardless of the result at Rangers, the Blue Toon will be fighting a chasing pack on the back of the game, with the top-half of the table tightly packed and ready to pounce on the available play-off positions as the New Year approaches.

A few away wins in the lead up to then, however, may just be on every Peterhead fan’s Christmas wish-list.