THE storm clouds are brewing over Balmoor as Peterhead face their toughest test yet as they battle to retain their Second Division future.
Yet another defeat, this time at the hands of bottom side Stenhousemuir, has left the Blue Toon in a very precarious position, only one point ahead of them and having played two games more.
And Peterhead boss Neale Cooper knows that his job is hanging by a thread and is calling his players to battle as they fight for their league survival.
“Manager is certainly a lonely place to be at the moment, but that’s the nature of the beast,” said Cooper.
“We have gone from having a positive start to the year with a draw against St. Mirren and defeating Ayr United and Livingston, to rock bottom where we are now in serious danger of getting relegated.
“It’s been a really hard week - two defeats at the hands of Dumbarton and then another defeat by Stenhousemuir and now we have a massive game ahead of us tonight at East Fife,” he said.
“I had a good chat with the players, but it’s not a time for ranting and raving at the moment, it’s a time for trying to stick together and trying to see the importance of fighting for every point from now on.
“It’s great when everything is going well but it’s not pleasant when things aren’t and we just have to try and get through this harsh period.”
Cooper said his players must now treat every game as it if were a cup final if they are to fight their way out of their lowly league position.
“I always want to win. I wanted to win as a player and I want to win as a manager and we all have to really graft now and put in a performance,” he said.
“I was really disappointed with Saturday’s performance and it’s really frustrating having to watch that. We should have been 4-1 up in the first half but we missed the chances and then they got two late goals.
“It was hard to get going in the second half but we have to try and motivate ourselves and fight. We cannot keep conceding goals the way we are doing.
“I’m trying to keep the players upbeat. It’s not about over criticising them, it’s about keeping them positive. We still have 12 games left in the league and so there’s plenty of time to turn things round again, but we have to stick together and fight for it.”
Cooper will be without influential Graeme Sharp for tonight’s match as he is in Trinidad on work commitments. Bobby Mann remains sidelined but Davie Donald returns after suspension. As to Cooper himself, he knows that his future is dependent on his players performance.
“It’s not the best position to be in, I can’t deny that, but at the end of the day my future is in the hands of the club. I’ve just got to battle onbut I have to admit it’s a hard and lonely place at the moment,” he added.