It has been a steep learning curve for St Johnstone defender Wallace Duffy.
But the former Celtic centre-back is loving life in “men’s football”.
At the heart of the youngster’s decision to swap Celtic Park for McDiarmid Park in the summer was a desire to test himself in the cauldron of high stakes Premiership football.
That test has been a demanding one – trying to help his new team off the bottom of the league while his part of the pitch was being talked about as an area of weakness.
Now that he has played his part in securing Saints back-to-back victories and a first clean-sheet of the campaign, there is hard evidence that the 20-year-old is getting to grips with the requirements of his new job.
“The main thing for me coming here was to get experience of a first team dressing room and hopefully some games as well,” said Duffy.
“I wanted to push to play every game but I certainly wasn’t expecting it.
“I’ve had a few lucky breaks, with Foster leaving and Liam Gordon’s injuries, which were obviously really unfortunate for him.
“That’s given me my chance.
“I’m enjoying things a lot more on the back of those two wins.
“I’m loving this environment – this isn’t kids football where results don’t matter. Results do matter. These are pressure situations.
“When I left Celtic I didn’t want to fall down the pecking order and drift down the lower leagues.
“I jumped at the chance to come here and luckily I’ve got my chance.”
Duffy and Jason Kerr dealt expertly with the threat of Hearts targetman Uche Ikpeazu last week.
He reflected: “It was a physical game against Hearts, much more than the Hamilton match. I enjoyed that side of it.
“Big Uche was a handful, really physical. That’s part of the game at this level and you have to be able to handle it.
“I’m working hard in the gym to improve my physicality because there are some big guys like Uche you come up against.
“Defenders love a 1-0 win. You can’t ask for better than that.
“We needed that clean-sheet as a defence.
“We haven’t won as many games as we should have because of the sloppy goals we’ve conceded.
“We’ve attacked better than we did in the Hearts game but we dug in and that’s what got us the win after the lucky break with Berra’s own goal.”
The Saints defenders knew the spotlight was on them as the early-season crisis deepened, according to Duffy. And they have put in the hard work to divert it.
“As a defensive group we’ve spoken about the need to get a clean-sheet,” said Duffy.
“We want to play nice football and get the full-backs high but it was important that we didn’t make ourselves vulnerable to the counter-attack.
“It’s something we’ve talked about and worked hard on in training, the back four especially. We’ve been defenders first and foremost and it’s paid off.”
The focus is now on turning two wins in a row into three.
Duffy said: “When we were down the bottom but there wasn’t a big gap.
“We hadn’t been playing badly. We hadn’t covered ourselves in glory defensively but attacking-wise we’d been creating chances.
“We’re only seven points from fifth spot. Top six certainly isn’t out of our reach.
“Celtic and Rangers are a different story but there isn’t much between the rest of us.
“We want to go on a run. This is a six-pointer because of Hibs’ situation but if we win it we’re absolutely flying.”
He added: “I had a good game when we played earlier in the season but it feels like ages ago. It was a really good team performance.
“It was probably a game we should have won and hopefully we’ll do that on Saturday.”