Peterhead winger Robert Ward says he is relishing the challenge of League Two after making the step up from the Breedon Highland League.
Ward, 22, signed for the Blue Toon on a two-year deal from Inverurie Locos in May, having spent two years with the Railwaymen after joining from Turriff United in 2021.
The attacker has started three out of Peterhead’s four League Two games so far, and feels he is adapting to the demands of playing in the SPFL.
He said: “I’m definitely relishing the challenge. I’ve found it to be a big difference.
“It’s what I expected, but also not what I expected at the same time. I’m just trying to get to grips with that and become more consistent with my own game.
“The players at this level are much smarter and more streetwise.
“This level is a lot more punishing compared to where I have played before.
“Each game is really closely fought and one mistake can define a whole game, so you really have to stay focused the whole 90 minutes.
“That’s the main thing I’ve found from stepping up, but I’m enjoying the challenge and hope I can keep getting the minutes to improve and help the team.”
Although Ward admits playing in League Two has been a step up in level, he believes the Highland League was the perfect platform for him to develop his game after being released by Dundee United in 2019.
He added: “The Highland League is a really good level and it’s so competitive. It gave me a really good foundation to go and kick on to another level.
“You look at the table now and there are big teams near the bottom of the table that shouldn’t be down there, and at the top there are teams that you wouldn’t expect to be near there.
“It helped me become more mature as a player. The more minutes I played, it was about realising you’re there to do your part for the team’s success as a collective.”
Blue Toon preparing to bounce back from Spartans defeat
Peterhead tasted defeat in the league for the first time this season against Spartans last weekend, which saw them drop from the top of the table down to fifth.
Ward believes it reflects how competitive the division is going to be this term, and backs his side to show a reaction when they travel to Stranraer on Saturday.
He said: “It’ll be a challenging game, but there’s such a good team spirit and morale in the squad.
“I’ve got no doubt that between us we can bounce and we will bounce back. We’re sticking together and preparing properly by going down there the night before.
“Ninety minutes pass last Saturday and we go from first to fifth in the table. We know this is going to be a super competitive league this season, and that’s why we go out every single game thinking it’s a must-win.”