Carrick Rangers boss Niall Currie has rejected talk of promotion pressure despite growing belief that a rapid return to senior football is in sight for his on-song squad.
Saturday’s battling 2-2 draw at Shamrock Park helped Currie’s players protect the four-point gap over Portadown in the chase to claim second spot - and with it home advantage for the subsequent Bluefin Sport Championship pre-play-off meeting with third.
The winners of that one-off tussle would then face over two legs the side second-bottom of the Danske Bank Premiership to secure a spot at the Irish League’s top table next season.
Currie stepped in after a Portadown exit last year to repair and rebuild the damage done at Rangers by relegation.
Despite sitting pretty at present with five games left in the regular routine, Currie is opting to keep calm and carry on the work-in-progress.
“A top-six finish was our target so we sit so far ahead of schedule and those players have represented this club fantastically well,” said Currie. “I think, now we are in the situation, we’ve got to go for it - but without any pressure and for the players to simply go out, relax and enjoy the football.
“Everything will look after itself if they keep on doing what they’ve been doing.
“I’m certainly not putting my focus on worrying about second or third and don’t want the players thinking that way either.
“We take it one game at a time and where we finish is where we finish but the players deserve all the credit.
“To get into a play-off spot with such a new squad would be a massive achievement, certainly one of my biggest.
“We are in a position no-one expected us to be and on our day have shown to be a match for anyone in the Championship.
“We never set out to be searching for promotion, it was about a foundation in place and to build a new team.
“We are very young so this is going to be a great experience and, if we can keep this squad together, then give it a real rattle next season.”
Carrick host Larne on Saturday from 3 o’clock.