Goalkeeper Lenny Wilson is determined to hold on to a starting spot at Peterhead after 15 months on the bench.
Wilson, 23, signed for the Blue Toon last August, joining as back-up to then-number one Greg Fleming after four years combining his studies and football at college in America.
Before the start of the season, the stopper expected to finally make his competitive debut for Jim McInally’s team, having featured heavily in Peterhead’s preparatiom games.
However, the arrival of Josh Rae, 20, who spent time on the books of Celtic and Leeds earlier in his career, saw Wilson again forced to wait for his first professional appearance.
With Rae falling ill, Wilson finally came into the side for Peterhead’s last two Betfred Cup group games and is expected to retain his place for the League One visit of Dumbarton on Saturday.
He said: “It was a frustrating start for myself. After playing all pre-season, it wasn’t what I expected to happen, but these things happen in football.
“It was about trying to keep the head and working hard, which maybe initially I didn’t do – I let my emotions run how I was performing.
“But that’s all been swept away now. I’ve got my chance now to stake my claim for a permanent place in the team for the rest of the season.
“There’s definitely good competition with Josh there, healthy competition.
“He’s a young guy whose CV speaks for itself, and I think we both push each other in training.
“It’s good for both us, because having good competition means you have to perform on a Saturday and in training.”
Wilson’s long-awaited debut arrived in the Betfred Cup game at Kelty Hearts (1-1, then 5-3 Peterhead penalties win) last Tuesday, before he made his maiden home appearance in the final League Cup group game – Saturday’s 3-1 loss at home to Premiership St Johnstone.
After a handling error gave Kelty their equaliser in the first match, Wilson struggled with his kicking in the first half at windy Balmoor on Saturday, conditions he admits he’ll “need to get used to”.
On finding out he’d be playing and the two matches, he said: “It was unusual circumstances. You don’t wish illness upon anyone, but it was good to get a chance.
“I enjoyed it. It’s come 15 months after I signed, so it was a relief to get a game.
“You don’t know how long he’s going to be out for, so you just take it as it comes, but I enjoyed the night (at Kelty). The only dampener was making a mistake for the goal.
“Overall I had a good game, but one mistake as a goalkeeper can tarnish a performance.
“It comes with the position.
“I was happy to go into the game against St Johnstone, putting it behind me and it was a great experience to play against Premiership opposition.
“I thought we more than matched them for 60 minutes, but two penalties completely changed the game.
“It would’ve been interesting to see, without the penalties, how the game would’ve gone.
“On the whole I’ve really enjoyed it, but hopefully I can continue and take it into Saturday.”
This weekend’s return to league business comes against the Sons, with the Blue Toon having only won once in their four League One matches to this point.
Wilson says high-quality performances, including a win over Dundee United, which have meant disappointment at missing out on Betfred Cup progression, as well as increased competition as players return from injury, bodes well for Peterhead going forward.
He added: “The league games haven’t started the best, but there have been positives and the league’s so competitive – there are no clear favourites in any of the games.
“It doesn’t take much in the game to put you behind.
“We’ve conceded a lot of penalties this season.
“We’ve been unfortunate, but there are definitely a lot of positives. No one’s going to run away with the league, it’s going to be tight and every point is going to be worth its weight in gold come the end.”