ATHLETIC boss James McPake believes the club’s supporters and players deserve the credit for their table-topping position in League One.

But he has challenged his squad to maintain the level of performance that brought them a memorable victory over rivals Falkirk last Tuesday night when FC Edinburgh visit this weekend to harness the feel-good factor surrounding the club both on the pitch and in the stands.

The Pars saw their hopes of building on their victory over the Bairns on Saturday dashed by a snow-bound pitch at Peterhead, but will attempt to secure a fourth successive victory against the capital outfit on Saturday.

Dunfermline will look to, at worst, maintain the eight-point cushion they have over their nearest challengers, and McPake is in no doubt that the fans – more than 7,000 of whom packed the ground last midweek – will have their part to play as his team aim to maintain their push for the title.

“We want to keep the level of performance. We want to go out and give the fans things to cheer and get behind us,” he told Press Sport.

“The fans have been great in terms of the numbers that have come out, and we saw that on Tuesday. It was a fantastic crowd and, if we keep performing, they will keep coming back and, when they do come back, they’ll keep coming.

“They’ll get behind us. They’ll be critical, of course they will, but, ultimately, if the players put on that level, and show that they’re giving everything, then the fans will stick with them.

“Those nights are great. Night time games, you’re against a rival, there is a big crowd, a big atmosphere in the stadium – it’s nights like that we want.

“We just need to keep working hard as a staff and then the players, when they go on the pitch, it’s the players that bring the fans in. That’s what we said at the start and it’s something we keep going back on and referencing.

“The fans are spending their hard earned money to follow us home and away, so the least that they can expect is to see 100 per cent or maximum effort, whatever people want to class it, but the players giving everything for the football club, and as a staff and as a football club, us giving everything to get the right results on the pitch.

“So far this season, I don’t think that’s been missing at all in any games. There’s always been effort. Yeah, the result might not always be what we want it to be, but, if we keep doing that, then we believe we can have nights like that.”

McPake says that he and his players “love” the demands placed on them to win matches and be successful, and believes that everybody in and around the club has played their part in getting the Pars into pole position to make an instant return to the Championship – whilst cautioning that they haven’t achieved anything yet.

“They’re a demanding crowd and we love that. That’s what happens when you play at a football club where there is a history, or you need to win games, you need to create chances, or just run about at times to get them off their seat and make them proud of their team,” he continued.

“I think that all boils down to us. If we can continue to do that, they’ll stick with us. We’ve got nine to go, tough games, home and away, but that crowd will keep sticking with us as long as we keep giving everything for the football club.

“You strip it all back, and it’s down to the hard work that they see on a Saturday that we continue to do daily. It’s the players really; they’re doing all the hard work. They do it, they work every day, train and they do that to perform on a Saturday.

“As a football club, we all put our wee bits in, whether it’s the commercial side, the ground staff to give us a fantastic pitch, the medical staff, the board, and then the coaching staff as well. We all put our wee bits in to help those players perform on a Saturday but, ultimately, it’s down to the players when it comes to a Saturday, and we back them with that.

“The players deserve all the credit, or most of the credit for that, along with the fans because, without those two, you don’t have that. You need the players to buy into what you’re trying to do, then you need the fans to buy into what the players are doing on a Saturday, and, so far, it’s been good.

“So far, we haven’t achieved anything. The run is good, and the big crowds are good, but everything just goes on to the next game.”