Jamie Masson believes Cove Rangers are in a better place than last season as they close in on retaining the Highland League title.
Tonight the champions and table-toppers can move within a point of clinching the flag if they beat Keith at Kynoch Park.
Cove could win the championship tonight if they win or draw against the Maroons and Brora Rangers fail to beat Clachnacuddin at Grant Street Park.
If the Balmoral Stadium outfit retain the Highland League they will then go forward to face Lowland League champions, East Kilbride, in the pyramid play-offs.
The winner of that tie takes on League Two’s bottom club for the right to play in the SPFL next season.
Last term John Sheran’s men missed out in controversial fashion, as they were beaten 3-2 by Cowdenbeath in the play-off final.
For the final tie Cove were without some important players due to injury as a long, hard season took its toll on the squad.
However, everyone is available for this evening’s game with Keith. And as they look to win the league again, midfielder Masson reckons they are in a stronger position than 12 months ago.
The former Don said: “We’re in a good place with everyone being available.
“Last year we struggled towards the end of the season and in the play-offs we were struggling for a squad.
“We had three or four major players missing at the end.
“But this time we have a full squad so it keeps the manager John Sheran on his toes.
“It keeps the players on their toes as well because you need to play well every time you’re picked if you want to stay in the team.
“I think we’re more confident than we were last year.
“Being in the new stadium makes a difference as well because we have become used to that and are confident playing at home. Hopefully we can win the games to win the league and then kick on from there.”
Winning the Highland League would make it a treble for Cove this season after winning the Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup in October and the Highland League Cup on Saturday.
Masson added: “A treble is something we’re thinking about.
“We’re six points ahead with three games to go so we just need to take it one game at a time and try to win all three.
“If we do that it will get the confidence up ahead of potentially the play-offs.”
The weekend’s 2-0 win against Formartine United to clinch the League Cup means Masson has completed the clean sweep of trophies available to him in Highland League football.
After joining Cove last season, he helped them win the league and Aberdeenshire Shield.
Masson believes winning all four competitions justifies his decision to sign for the club – because he wanted to win silverware.
He said: “It feels good to have won the League Cup because it was a trophy I hadn’t won.
“It was the only trophy in the Highland League I hadn’t won, so it was good to add it to the collection.
“I’ve been here for two years and I’ve won the four competitions we play in so I’m buzzing.
“It shows the quality we have to have won those competitions.
“The reason I came to the club was to win medals and that’s what we’ve done.
“Now the League Cup is won we concentrate on the league again because we’ve got three games left.
“We’ll prepare well and try to get another three points up at Keith.”