The task of securing second place has just got a whole lot harder after suffering back-to-back defeats for the first time since August.
With Rangers drawing level on points in the battle to finish runners-up, the Ibrox men now have the advantage having played one game fewer, while we are now in a situation I don’t think many could have envisaged just a few weeks ago.
The plaudits that Alan Stubbs’ men have gained up until now must be put to one side as we enter such a critical phase of the season. I was certainly hoping we would be in this position to challenge for promotion before the season got under way, but we now have to bring our best form to table over the next few weeks.
Saturday’s defeat to Raith Rovers didn’t really catch me of guard if I am being completely honest. The level of performance against Rangers the previous week caused me some concern. It was so out of character and not one we have come to expect these past few months. That said, I had hoped the players would have rolled up their sleeves and ground out a win at Stark’s Park, but it wasn’t to be.
Every week is a learning curve for such a youthful side, but the players must get back on track against Queen of the South this weekend. Queens themselves have been out of sorts in recent weeks and look to have suffered a dip in confidence, but still harbour their own play-off aspirations.
Getting over the line is always the hardest part in football when the target is within touching distance. However, I am confident if we allow ourselves to return to the free-flowing football we have come to expect this season then our spot in the play-offs will be sealed sooner rather than later.
The return of Farid El Alagui is a really big timely boost and if he can get back to the goalscoring form he showed before his injury then that could really help our bid for promotion. With the Scottish Cup semi-final edging ever closer, competition for places is sure to keep the players on their toes ahead of the big game at Hampden.