Cham­pi­ons League comebacks put In­ver­ness on their guard

● De­fender Don­ald­son wary of two- goal lead af­ter res­cues by Liver­pool and Spurs

The Scotsman - - WEEKEND SPORT - By ALASDAIR FRASER AND CRAIG P STE­WART

The i ncred­ibl e c ome­back hero­ics of Liver­pool and Spurs have placed Ca­ley This­tle on high alert for Ayr United’s visit to­day, in­sists Coll Don­ald­son.

T h e I n v e r n e s s d e f e n d - er doubts t he r emark­able Cham­pi­ons League matches will al­ter Ayr’s all- or- noth­ing ap­proach as they try to re­verse a 3- 1 first- leg deficit in­flicted on Tues­day night.

But Don­ald­son ac­knowl­edged the stag­ger­ing Liver­pool come­back against Barcelona and Tot­ten­ham’s tri­umph against Ajax had ex­tin­guished any t r ace of com­pla­cency from the High­landers’ minds.

The for­mer Dundee United de­fender said: “It is easy to say ‘ look at re­sults this week’, but it is true. No­body would have pre­dicted that.

“We have to be right on our guard be­cause if they score early or start pres­sur­ing us early it can change quickly. Mo­men­tum in foot­ball is mas­sive. We’ve just got to go out and try to win the game.

“We­proved on Tues­day night we’ve got what it takes to play in the pres­sure matches and we seem to ac­tu­ally play a lit­tle bit bet­ter in them.

“I don’t know whether the Euro­pean games will give Ayr ex­tra be­lief, but it will def­i­nitely have put our guard up even more.

“We re­alise it is far from over, es­pe­cially at this level where teams are just as likely to beat us 3- 1 as we are to beat them 3- 1.

“The gaffer men­tioned we’d only lost by one goal all sea­son bar the Dundee United game which we lost by two.

“We are quite a hard team to beat and the game is at our place on Satur­day so we’ve got to be con­fi­dent about go­ing out and win­ning it, not just see­ing it through.

“There’s this mas­sive prize now, s o t he l ast cou­ple of league games were ac­tu­ally harder in many ways. Ev­ery­one is rar­ing to go.”

Don­ald­son be­lieves Ca­ley This­tle, look­ing to be­come the first team to win pro­mo­tion from be­low the top two, can glean ex­tra con­fi­dence from the way they fin­ished last sea­son, with a win­ning streak amid a high vol­ume of matches.

He said: “I per­son­ally re­ally like this kind of sched­ule – the short, sharp train­ing is quite en­joy­able. You do small- sided games and there’s a cou­ple more days off thrown in there be­cause of all the games.

“I rel­ish it but it does take a toll on your body. It is tough com­ing at the end of a sea­son.

“As hard as it is phys­i­cally, there’s a men­tal strain as well.

“We thrived on it last sea­son when we were tr ying to get into the play- offs. With the mo­men­tum, we kept win­ning.

“Win­ning our last two league

Don­ald­son, left, vies with Ayr’s Lawrence Shank­land dur­ing Tues­day’s first leg. games this sea­son, with noth­ing much rest­ing on them, was im­por­tant. It meant we

fin­ished third and gave us the de­cid­ing leg at our place. We car­ried the form into Tues­day, win­ning 3- 1, so we’re all re­ally con­fi­dent as a squad and get­ting that know- how to win im­por­tant games.”

Ayr United man­ager I an Mccall, mean­while, wants his side to put the cat among the pi­geons by scor­ing the first goal. The Som­er­set Park man­ager is hop­ing that would put the wind up the High­landers.

Mccall s ai d: “We s i mply need to score f i rst and see what hap­pens. I am sure ev­ery man­ager that is be­hind at the mo­ment will be say­ing the same but events this week on a much big­ger stage have shown

that all things are pos­si­ble. If we can get in front then all of a sud­den get­ting level in the tie does not seem that far away. It would give In­ver­ness some­thing to think about in terms of whether they should go for an­other goal or shut things down.

“If we can get a head of steam up then we will be dan­ger­ous. We don’t need a 5- 0 win like we achieved at Dundee United ear­lier this sea­son but a per­for­mance close to that level would be fan­tas­tic.

“We have had two fab­u­lous sea­sons and have a chance to keep that go­ing. Get­ting that first goal would make things very in­ter­est­ing.”

“If we can get in front then all of a sud­den get­ting level in the tie does not seem that far away. It would give In­ver­ness some­thing to think about”

IAN MCCALL

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Premier­ship Play- Off quar­ter- fi­nal, 2nd leg Cale­do­nian Stadium To­day, 3pm Up­dates on Ra­dio Scot­land MW

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