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THE PRESSURE GAME

Posted on 22 March 2006  - 12:00

Chris Hughton welcomes with open arms the pressure of competing for fourth place in the Premiership.

Chris Hughton welcomes with open arms the pressure of competing for fourth place in the Premiership.

The heat was certainly on as our three main rivals Arsenal, Blackburn and Bolton all won before we’d kicked-off at Birmingham City on Saturday.

The lads rose to the challenge as goals from Aaron Lennon and Robbie Keane saw us home at St Andrews. It was our fifth away win of the campaign and took us to 52 points, matching last season’s tally with eight games still to go.

The win at Birmingham maintained a two-point gap over Arsenal with Rovers three points behind and Bolton four points but with two games in hand.

Chris knows every one of our remaining eight games will be just as intense - just think of the trip to Highbury on April 22 - and is delighted that’s the case.

"There was pressure at Birmingham but that's what you want," stated coach and first assistant Chris. "We certainly prefer the pressure of being where we are rather than the pressure of being one of the sides at the other end of the table.

"With eight games to go, they are all going to be the same and we would love to go into the last few games with that pressure perhaps even greater.

"That is what you strive for and the clubs that have been there on a regular basis over the years have to cope with that. It will be a tough run in but it will be exciting for everyone involved."

So how was Chris bearing up? "Loving every minute when we win, incredibly disappointed when we don't," he added. "Those are the emotions in football and that's always the case.

"It's mostly excitement and that's probably because of the group of lads we have at the club.

"They are a good group, hard working, honest and I want it for them. These final games will show what we're made of and I think we've got some good characters in there."