Dundee striker Jason Cummings says there is no better feeling than winning promotion.
And he’s urged his Dens Park team-mates to make that a reality this season after securing their place in the Premiership play-offs.
Cummings notched his sixth goal of the season as Dundee saw off Raith Rovers at Dens Park on Saturday to set up a final-day battle for second place.
That made it seven matches unbeaten and the Scotland striker says Dundee are timing their run well.
He said: “It is a good time to hit form. I feel there aren’t many teams in the league who want to play us at the moment.
“Even if we manage to get through to play the Premiership side, they will not be feeling too confident playing us either.
“Everyone in the changing-room is buzzing. Everyone is confident, we are playing well and everything is good so far.”
Cummings’ experience of the Premiership play-offs isn’t so good, though.
In his breakthrough season, he grabbed his first career goals in Hibs’ 2-0 win over Hamilton in the first leg of the 2013/14 final.
That joy would be short-lived, however, as he missed the decisive spot-kick in the second leg which saw Accies promoted and Hibs head to the Championship.
He would quickly become a deadly striker in the second tier, breaking the 20-goal mark in each of the following three seasons before promotion would come at Easter Road in 2017.
And that feeling is one he wants to repeat once more this season at Dens Park.
On the 2013/14 play-off, Cummings said: “I don’t want to think about it – it’s PTSD!
“When I first broke through I was with Hibs and we ended up playing Hamilton and going down.
“I missed a penalty so that wasn’t great.
“But on the flip side, I also went up with Hibs.
“I have told the lads that there is nothing better. What a feeling it is when you are playing well and you get that promotion.
“The party after and everything makes it all worth it.
“So I am hoping I can do that at Dundee.”
He added: “Personally, I want to be playing in the Premiership against the bigger teams like Rangers and Celtic.
“It is the same with the club. Dundee is a big club with good fans here.
“It is a team that is capable of being in the top flight as well.
“I have come here to do my best to get us up there.”
Big players needed – Dundee ‘have loads’
Dundee have a number of players who have enjoyed success in promotion play-off football and Cummings says that’ll be an advantage for the Dark Blues.
Charlie Adam and Liam Fontaine have positive experience of play-off finals at Wembley down south while Shaun Byrne won promotion to the Premiership with Livingston through the play-offs.
And having a raft of experience throughout the dressing-room will be huge says Cummings.
“Me included,” he added. “I am not a young lad any more.
“I have been there myself with the play-offs a few times.
“We also have lads who have played at a higher level – top quality players.
“It will not faze us – the bigger the game, the bigger the challenge for us.
“When it comes to big games, you need big players.
“I feel if you look at our team, we have loads of them there.
“So that won’t be a problem for us.”
How the Raith match unfolded
Saturday’s goal against Raith Rovers ended a run of four games without a goal for the former Hibs and Rangers man.
After a flowing move down the left flank with inter-play between Charlie Adam, Cammy Kerr and Paul McGowan, Kerr sent in a left-foot cross for the 25-year-old striker.
Cummings struck for goal but saw the ball rebound off the arm of Kyle Benedictus and Willie Collum pointed to the spot.
That gave Cummings the chance to grab his sixth goal in 15 games for Dundee and he made no mistake in sending Jamie MacDonald the wrong way.
A second goal would come before the break as Liam Fontaine met a Paul McGowan corner to head beyond the goalkeeper.
The second half became an exercise in protecting a lead – something Dundee haven’t always been successful at this season – and they saw the game out eventually.
There was some late drama, however, as Benedictus headed in from close range with two minutes to go before Dylan Tait saw red in stoppage time.
Dundee went into the game knowing only victory would do if they were to take the runners-up spot from opponents Raith.
‘We wanted to put a stamp down’
Cummings, though, revealed the Dark Blues were also determined to lay a marker ahead of the play-offs.
Rovers had already sown up their place in the end-of-season head-to-heads while Dunfermline also joined the pair on Saturday.
Dundee’s recent run has seen them get the better of both of those teams and Cummings reckons that’ll give his side a boost come crunch time.
He added: “Saturday was massive because it was probably a must-win game for us as we want to go for second place.
“Obviously it is between us and Raith so we wanted to put a stamp down to show them what we are all about.
“I thought we put on a professional performance. Tactically, we got it spot on, we frustrated them and personally I am happy with my goal and three points – so a good day.”
He added: “We cannot affect their game next week. It is a tough one (for Raith) against Hearts but we also have a tough game away to Queen of the South.
“So we just need to make sure we go there, get three points and then see what happens.
“It is good that we have secured the play-offs. So if the worst comes to the worst and we don’t make second, we can still be confident we can go up finishing third.
“We are capable of beating anyone over two legs and if it means six games, then not a problem.
“I would say second is obviously better and that’s what we are going for.”
Warning for Charlie Adam
Cummings also left a warning for team-mate Charlie Adam after taking on the penalty-taking duties at the weekend.
Adam saw a spot-kick against St Johnstone saved earlier this month, giving Cummings the chance again from 12 yards.
He joked: “He obviously missed the last one so I think I am back on them – I dinnae miss!
“Charlie was on pens before I came here but I took a couple and scored them when he wasn’t playing.
“I am confident in my own ability and it is in your favour to score a penalty.
“You just find a spot and go for it. I will take penalties – it’s not a problem.”