Peterhead assistant Davie Nicholls says the players “won’t be allowed to drop their standards” as they look to turn promising Betfred Cup showings into their first home League One win of the campaign.
The Blue Toon welcome Dumbarton to Balmoor this afternoon on the back of last weekend’s 3-1 League Cup loss to Premiership St Johnstone. The defeat meant the Buchan outfit just missed out on reaching the knock-out stages, following wins over Dundee United and Brechin City, and a draw and penalty shoot-out victory over Kelty Hearts.
Nicholls, who is number two to Jim McInally, said: “On Saturday, as much as we were pleased with the performance, we were bitterly disappointed (not go through), that just shows you. We were playing against St Johnstone, a Premiership team, and we’re disappointed to lose the game in the manner we did with two penalties.”
He added: “What you always do get, I know this from my own playing career and Jim would say the same – when you play against a big team, the next game is always the hardest game, because you’re trying to raise yourself to that standard again.
“When it’s a game against a team who are a similar standard to yourself, instead of a Premiership team who’ve maybe got internationals.
“Our boys need to recreate that the best they can and we’ll be pushing them to do that.
“They’ve set standards and we can’t allow them to drop that.”
Peterhead, whose win at Clyde was their only League One victory so far, lost 3-2 at Montrose in their last league game, having led early on and then levelled the scores at 2-2 in the second half.
Nicholls thinks the Blue Toon, who’ve also struggled with injuries in recent weeks, have shown they are a “real gutsy bunch”, and he is desperate for them to get over the line at home today against Jim Duffy’s third-placed Dumbarton and start putting together a confidence-building Balmoor run.
He said: “It’s important we impose ourselves on teams, like we’ve been doing, but go on to get the win.
“Jim’s teams are always well organised and he’s got a knack of picking up really good individual players.
“I’m sure he’s done that this year again with their results.
“They beat Clyde, who were tipped to do well this season. Obviously, we beat Clyde away.
“His teams are competitive, well set-up and it’ll be a really difficult game.
“But we need to start getting a run at home, a few good results. We always seem to do well away from home, but it’s time to make Balmoor a really tough place to come again.”
Last week, midfielder Simon Ferry and striker Steven Boyd made their first starts after injury, while frontman Isaac Layne and centre-half Gary MacKenze could also be back in the squad as early as today.
Nicholls said: “Everybody who’s come into the team has done really well – but we just need to get everybody fit.
“That level of experience down the spine of your team helps you, it really does.”
Ben Armour has also recovered from a tight hamstring.
However, Peterhead confirmed on Thursday Dundee loanee Josh Mulligan would be out until 2021 as the winger needs surgery on an ankle injury.