Whitehill Welfare manager Mike Lawson has not seen his team in competitive action since November 17 because of the weather and described the situation as “soul destroying.”
The Rosewell club’s Image Printers Cup tie away to Gretna 2008 has been postponed three times because of a frozen pitch at Raydale Park, but Lawson is now optimistic that tomorrow’s changed fixture, a Central Taxis Premier Division game away to Edinburgh University, will go ahead at Peffermill.
“I have taken the opportunity to look at the University’s pitch and it is flat and has plenty of grass on it,” added Lawson. “It’s been very frustrating for all of the teams in the East of Scotland football league and, like everyone else, we are just desperate to get back playing. Mike Irving [assistant manager] and I have picked three different teams for the past three weeks since our 5-2 win against Eyemouth United.
“These postponements at least gave me the opportunity to watch tomorrow’s opponents Edinburgh University play Heriot-Watt University at Riccarton, a game Edinburgh won 2-1.
“I’m glad I went to watch them because I can now tell all of our players that Edinburgh’s low league position is false.
“I have the utmost respect for Edinburgh University. In my last season as manager of Spartans, the students cost me the Premier Division title. We were beating them 1-0 and they equalised. Those two dropped points cost Spartans the league championship, so nobody needs to tell me about the abilities of the students.
“Going even further back to when I was manager at Whitehill in a previous spell about 12 years ago, the University’s left back, Stewart Fowlie, who later went on to become my captain at Spartans, scored a fantastic goal to beat Whitehill. Tomorrow’s game is huge for them and it’s also a massive game for us because a win would keep us in touch with the teams at the top of the league. Edinburgh have a new young manager and I know that Dorian [Ogunro] will be trying like a bear. I have never under-estimated any Edinburgh University team and I am well aware of what they can do.
“We have pleasant selection headaches because we have a squad of players who all have similar abilities, so whoever plays, it never weakens our side. We are very much a squad and Mike and me will pick a team that we think is capable of beating Edinburgh University.”
Wayne McIntosh, who scored a hat-trick against Eyemouth United after coming off the subs’ bench, could be in line for a starting berth, while defender Willie Kidd has recovered from illness. Alan Brown is suspended.
Edinburgh University have played ten league games, with their recent 2-1 win against Heriot-Watt University being their only three points, although they have drawn four games to leave them hovering around the relegation zone. Students head coach Dorian Ogunro said of tomorrow’s clash with Whitehill: “This is a very big game against a very good team in which my players will have to work their socks off. We will have to be very disciplined and very patient and work extremely hard. The correct attitude is key. We will need to defend well and take advantage of any mistakes Whitehill make at the other end of the park.
“I have not seen Whitehill this season, although I have spoken to other managers and I do know that they are an aggressive side who will not make it easy for us. I particularly like their main striker, Wayne McIntosh. However, it’s about us and all I want is for my players to do what they practice in training for the entire 90 minutes to give themselves a chance of getting a result.”
Reflecting on his side’s recent league win over Heriot-Watt, Ogunro said: “That was a great result which went with a great performance along with us scoring at the right times. Too often this season we have performed well but not been rewarded with the points. Hopefully that game has started things off for us.”
Ogunro will be missing regular goalkeeper Mark Tait with Liam Valentine likely to take over, while captain Dan Main is suspended and Dan Ward is unavailable. George Nikolidis and Mike Gray are both in line for a start. The game kicks off at Peffermill at 1.45pm with admission charges at adults £3 and concessions £1.