Livingston boss David Hopkin has claimed his players have not received the credit they deserve despite earning a Scottish Premiership play-off place.
Livi host Partick Thistle tonight in the first leg of the play-off final following an impressive campaign in the second tier of Scottish football.
Hopkin guided the club to second place in the Championship in their first season back after winning promotion from League One last season.
But he feels that, as well as often being criticised for their style of play, their achievements have been overlooked, despite them finishing above more fancied teams such as Dundee United, Inverness and Falkirk
“Last year we won League One by 19 points with about eight or nine games to go and that was a fantastic achievement,” the former Scotland midfielder said. “This season if we had stayed up I think we’d have got more plaudits, but I think finishing second has gone a bit unnoticed.
“I think it is a bit unfair on the players because to finish second from where we were last year is a phenomenal achievement with our budget.
“My players deserve a lot more credit than they get, but I’ve not seen anybody come out and wax lyrical about any of the players and how they’ve stepped up.
“I think a lot of people don’t think we should be there, and I think they’re upset that we’ve taken one of the play-off places off one of the bigger teams in the league, and that itself is an achievement.
“But we are two games away now and can go and play without any pressure.”
Despite punching above their weight this season, Livi are second favourites to get past Thistle over two legs and secure a place in the top flight.
No Championship team has progressed through the play-offs and into the Premiership since Hamilton’s success in 2014 when they saw off Hibs on penalties, and Hopkin knows his side are up against it if they are to end that sequence.
He said: “We need to make sure we don’t concede here early and make the game difficult for ourselves.
“As long as the game is 0-0, then I will be delighted. We have to go to Firhill with something still to play for. If we do, it will be more nervy for both sides.”
He added: “You look at where we are, and we probably didn’t expect to finish second in the Championship and we definitely didn’t expect to beat Dundee United over two legs.
“The mentality the players have and that strong will and bond they have together is something that drives us on.
“If we can replicate the last two games and work as hard as we can, then we will see how far it takes us.
“It might be that somebody will be a hero and scores a goal, but if we lose then I wish Partick Thistle and Alan (Archibald) all the best.”