Jim McInally believes Peterhead can keep punching above their weight in League One as they found out their fixtures for the new season.
The Blue Toon will open up against Alloa Athletic – relegated from the Championship last season – on the opening day at Balmoor.
They will then face back-to-back away games against Falkirk and Montrose. Peterhead’s final game of the season will be away to East Fife.
McInally reckons expectations from outwith the club will be for Peterhead to struggle but thinks they are capable of surprising people.
He said: “People probably see us and Clyde as the teams to go down. We just need to show we’re better than that.
“You can use it. I’ve seen some stuff from our players saying they’re looking higher this season and that’s fine, but I think I’m a bit more realistic than that. With it being such a tough league, first and foremost we need to make sure we win enough games to stay in it.
“Although last season was shortened, we were only two or three games from being in the top four. There’s a happy medium there. We need to learn to draw more games and if we could do it, we’ll be OK.
“You look at the standards we set last season in games and they were very good. We beat Falkirk, we beat Airdrie. We know what we can do and hopefully we’re stronger this year.
“We’re an up-and-coming team a bit, which quite excites you. We’ve got a lot of young legs in our team. It’s a good challenge.”
The derbies against Cove Rangers are on September 18 and January 2 at Balmoor, with the return games at the Balmoral Stadium on November 13 and March 5.
McInally said: “Hopefully by that point everybody will be vaccinated and we’ll be back to proper crowds. That would be good, because they’re not too early.
“If we’re not at that stage by then we’re in trouble. That’s the ties you look for, your derby games. Hospitality is important to the clubs, to get that started again.
“Hopefully by that time everybody is doubly-vaccinated and if everybody is, you’d hope we can get on with normal life.”
With the amount of teams with promotion ambitions, the Peterhead boss thinks the pressure will tell on these sides at some stage.
McInally added: “There’s nothing you’d ever say ‘that’s a good tie’. You’ve got a chance of winning every game you go into.
“I think the pressure is on Alloa a wee bit, because they’ve brought Barry (Ferguson) in and their chairman will be expecting them to go straight back up again.
“They’ll be well-funded, with a few years of Championship money plus the government grant last year, so I’d imagine they’d have a big budget.
“If we play as we did last year in games, we’ll be OK and we’ll be a handful for teams. It’s a really tough league, probably even tougher this year, but we’ll just get on with it.
“You’ve got Queen’s Park, Alloa, Falkirk, Airdrie – they all can’t win. At some point there comes a pressure on these teams; you need to try add to that.”