ATHLETIC head coach Stevie Crawford has praised the “strong bond” amongst his squad and urged them to enjoy their rich vein of form.

Saturday’s win over Queen of the South, their fourth on the spin, saw his team leapfrog Inverness Caledonian Thistle into the final promotion play-off place as they head into the last quarter of the campaign.

While he has warned against complacency ahead of this weekend’s trip to Alloa Athletic, Crawford is now setting his sights on closing the gap to third-top Ayr United and maintaining a team ethic that has seen them play more than six hours without conceding a goal.

“Performances to begin with probably didn’t show it in terms of getting results on the board, but there has been a togetherness and it is getting stronger,” he said.

“Although it’s not about getting carried away, because football very quickly comes up and bites you on the backside, to have had four clean sheets in the last four games, and to have won all four, is credit to the boys.

“We have to stay focussed on what we want to try and achieve between now and the end of the season, but you’ve got to enjoy the moment and the run we’re on. The boys have worked extremely hard.

“We’ve now given ourselves a platform, and from the hard work that they’ve done from leading up to the Dundee United game, we’re getting to see some rewards from it.

“It’s about being hungry and wanting more of that, and we have to stay close-knit, tight and together, and that brings a feel-good factor about East End again.

“People might talk about some of the boys – whoever is scoring goals, keeping clean sheets or making assists – but I think the biggest positive about the place at the moment is that people are talking about us as a team. That’s what has to remain and that’s what we want to build on.

“We know it’s close behind, and Inverness have a game in hand where they could go up above us again, but why not set our sights on Ayr United?

“I don’t think that’s being unrealistic; we’re six points behind them, albeit we’ve played a game more, but let’s set our sights on it.”

Crawford, who welcomed James Vincent and Myles Hippolyte back to training this week, added: “We’ve got a very tough game against Alloa coming up, and we have make sure we’re aware of Alloa’s strengths.

“We’ve got to go there and make sure that they know they’re in for a tough, physical game.”