Coll Donaldson knows what it is like to find yourself sliding towards relegation – and that is why he thinks there is still plenty of life yet in Ross County.
The centre-back was part of the Dundee United side who went down with a whimper back in 2016.
It was a torturous experience for the then 21-year-old as nothing he or his Terrors team-mates did could stop the Tangerines’ inevitable fall into the Championship.
Five years on, he finds himself in another battle for survival but this time he reckons John Hughes’ team have more than a fighting chance of staying up.
Victory at home to Hamilton on Wednesday night will rule out the threat of automatic demotion, meaning County would just have to match Kilmarnock’s result against Accies at the weekend when they travel to Motherwell to secure their top-flight spot next season.
“It’s horrible,” he said, looking back on the trauma of 2016. “Any relegation is horrible.
“I’ve only experienced it once with United but it is completely different to how it is here.
“Back then, we were probably relegated with about 10 games to go in all honesty.
“At one point over Christmas we were about 16 points adrift.
“But it’s a completely different feeling here this time.
“There was obviously a massive hunger back then not to go down and it’s the same here. But there’s a different feel this time.
“I didn’t really know how to deal with it and the slack from the fans. You deal with things completely differently when you’re 21 years old compared to when you’re 26.”
The mood in Dingwall was certainly buoyed by last week’s win against Dundee United.
But Donaldson knows County cannot afford to get carried away while there is still work to be done.
“We’re not thinking we’re brilliant again after the result last week,” he stressed.
“It was just one result but it was an important one and you can sense the confidence going into Wednesday’s game.
“In the last 10 games we’ve been picking up the most points from the bottom three so if anyone should be confident going into these last three games it probably should be us.
“Relegation battles are always about who blinks first.
“People are nervous but it’s how you deal with the nerves. You can take it as a challenge and embrace it.
“Things have been really good about the club the last week – a win always does that.
“But we still need to win on Wednesday. You can’t dress it up any other way. It’s must-win.”
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