Footballers live for the pressure of a play-off scrap according to AFC Wimbledon’s Andy Barcham.
The Dons face Portsmouth at Kingsmeadow tonight in a game where the stakes could hardly be higher.
A win for the Wombles will take them above Pompey guaranteeing them a place in the end-of-season knockout phase.
It is the first time Neal Ardley’s men have been in such rarefied footballing air since being promoted to the Football League in 2010-11.
But former Pompey winger Barcham says anyone intimidated by such a scenario should consider the alternative and ask themselves what they are doing in the sport.
“Pressure is what makes games great,” he said.
“When you look at the fixture list and what is in store these are the games you want to play in. This is perfect.
“There are other teams playing who we have come up against in recent games who are playing for nothing, waiting for the season to fizzle out and it is so much better being in our position where every game is massive with so much at stake.
“You want to play these big games with the chance to get into the playoffs and continue the season with a chance to be at Wembley. These are exciting times and if you are not excited about that you should not be playing football.”
The game against Barcham’s former teammates should originally have been played on Easter Monday.
Back then Dons were four points adrift of the playoff spots having just lost at Hartlepool and seven points behind tonight’s visitors, but five wins on the trot have changed the landscape.
Barcham feels as one of football’s sleeping giants Portsmouth will always be under pressure in these games. But while some see Wimbledon as underdogs who have punched above their weight this term, Barcham maintains this scenario was the reason he headed to the banks of the Thames in the first place.
“When I signed for the club the gaffer explained his vision for the players he had here and who he was talking about adding, so there was no reason why we couldn’t be in the position we are now,” he added.
“It is obviously difficult to find that team spirit and to have the players gel, but it was certainly a possibility.
“With the quality we have got we are where we should be and we are enjoying what we have all worked hard for.
“Possibly Portsmouth are under more pressure. The pressure is always there for them to succeed as they are a massive club who shouldn’t be in the position they are in.
“But we have pressure here too which we put on ourselves because we know where we want to get to.”