Batchelor feels good again at Linlithgow Rose

Blair Batchelor, right, credits David McGlynn with rebuilding his confidence
Blair Batchelor, right, credits David McGlynn with rebuilding his confidence
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Linlithgow Rose midfielder Blair Batchelor was set to quit Prestonfield at the end of last season having become bereft of confidence.

The former Camelon player submitted a transfer request and made clear his wish was to leave the club after a wretched campaign under boss Danny Smith.

However, he has become rejuvenated under new manager David McGlynn and recently withdrew his request in order to remain at the club having had his confidence restored.

Now Batchelor has got his sights on getting the club back to where they feel they belong at the top of Junior football and winning trophies, despite being regarded as also-rans after little change in the playing staff during the close season while all their rivals strengthened their squads.

“We’ve been written off this season by pretty much everybody bar ourselves, but we know exactly what we are capable of,” said the 27-year-old. “We’ve probably got the best squad in the league.

“When you hear everybody writing you off it spurs you on. We’ve got very good players in there and once we start gelling together we’ll just keep getting better and better. The way the gaffer wants to play is very good – he wants to get the ball down and that suits a lot of the boys.”

Rose ended last season without any silverware being added to the Prestonfield trophy cabinet and despite finishing in third place in the Super League as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Scottish Junior Cup, manager Smith resigned at the end of the campaign under a cloud of uncertainty with murmurs of discontent behind the scenes.

Former St Johnstone youngster Batchelor, who was brought in by Smith last summer, simply insists they have to get better this year.

He said: “We’ve got to improve on last season – everybody knows it was a poor season by our standards and we need to try and kick on this year. The league is obviously the priority as well as the Scottish and we need to show the way we should be playing.

“Confidence was definitely low at the end of last season, we let ourselves down and we let a lot of people down, but this season we can kick ourselves on again. The confidence is coming back and we are playing some nice stuff at times.

“I had lost a lot of confidence but the gaffer has come in and has done very well for me. He’s had faith in me to play me and he’s given me my confidence back.”

Rose are the only unbeaten side left in the Super League and host Penicuik Athletic tomorrow as they aim to make it three wins on the bounce after victories over Bonnyrigg Rose and Fauldhouse United.

Penicuik boss Craig Meikle will be hoping his side can repeat last season’s heroics when the Super League new boys shocked Linlithgow with a 2-1 victory at Prestonfield in the second match of the season.

After a promising start, with a draw at home to Broxburn followed up by a win at Musselburgh Athletic, Penicuik have lost their last two against Kelty and Bonnyrigg.

“We need to show a bit more desire and a bit of willingness. We’ve played three games at home now and we’ve only got one point and that’s not good enough,” said Meikle.

“From what should’ve been a good start to the season with four points from our first two games has now turned out to be a bad start to the season. Hopefully it’s a wake-up call to the players early in the season and it’s better happening now when we’ve still got plenty games to play.”

Linlithgow are without striker Colin Strickland who is nursing a knee injury, while Penicuik’s Ryan McCallum won’t make it after sustaining a nasty ear injury in the midweek defeat at home to Bonnyrigg. Midfielder Jordan Lister is suspended.

Elsewhere in the Super League, Bonnyrigg host champions Kelty at New Dundas Park while Bo’ness take on Carnoustie at home. Musselburgh and Newtongrange travel to Sauchie and St Andrews respectively.