Montrose boss Stewart Petrie has paid credit to his players for securing their League 1 status – and is now looking for them to go one better and cement a place in the promotion play-off spots.
The Links Park manager has made no secret of the fact that survival was his No.1 aim this season after coming up from League 2.
The Gable Endies finally erased any fears about being dragged back into the drop zone with a notable 2-0 win at East Fife last week which saw them leapfrog the Methil men into fourth spot in the table.
Now, they have three games left, starting with Airdrie at home this afternoon to set the seal on a memorable campaign.
Petrie said: “We wanted to make ourselves safe off our own bat and we are over the moon to have done that.
“It has been a very relaxing week after you do secure that because you are under pressure all season – every club is.
“It is a great achievement from the lads to take 12 points out of 15 in recent weeks at this time of the season especially when every team is playing for something.
“It is credit to the squad and their fitness levels as well.
“We certainly looked at strengthening in the summer but we couldn’t get the ones we wanted to get in.
“We weren’t going to bring in anybody just for the sake of it.
“So the guys have kicked on. A lot of them had never played League 1 football so to do as well as they have done is again credit to them.
“They are a great bunch to work with and they give everything, making the job easy for me.”
Petrie admitted that while Montrose may have secured their League 1 status, the games remaining will now bring a different type of pressure.
He added: “You can’t hide now. We are fourth place with three games to go and are still in there with East Fife and Airdrie so it is a big game on Saturday.
“Like any home game we want to go and try to win it, there is no doubt about that.
“The last time we played them at Links Park, they gave us a bit of a going over so we are well aware of how good they can be on their day.
“There will be pressure on us but it is a different kind certainly from worrying about being ninth or 10th.
“So we will enjoy being in a position where we are fighting for the play-off spots and we will give it our best shot over the next couple of weeks.”
Meanwhile, Petrie also paid tribute to the contribution made by centre-half Michael Bolochoweckyj, who will join Lowland league outfit Spartans at the end of the season.
Petrie added: “Michael has been great for us since I came to the club and he was an integral part of the championship-winning side.
“He has certainly played his part this year as well so he goes with our best wishes to Spartans at the end of the season.”
Montrose will be without long-term injured Martyn Fotheringham and Matty Allan.