Bo’ness United striker Colin Strickland believes they must defeat Super League leaders Kelty Hearts at home tomorrow if they are to have any hope of lifting the Super League title in June.
Strickland admits it will take something special to usurp Kelty Hearts as Tam Courts’ men look unstoppable at present having commandeered top spot with an unbeaten run of 17 games. They hold a lead of 18 points over the BUs, who lie fourth, albeit Allan McGonigal’s side have four games in hand and can pull closer by inflicting the first defeat of the season on Kelty tomorrow.
Strickland sees similarities between Kelty and the Linlithgow Rose side he was a part of who went 49 games unbeaten over a 13-month period spanning across two seasons under the tutelage of Mark Bradley. Rose came within a whisker of matching Arsenal’s “Invincibles” – who went an entire season unbeaten – only to lose out to Auchinleck Talbot in the 2013 Scottish Junior Cup final.
“Once you are on that type of run the confidence is there and you turn up expecting to win every week,” said Strickland. “We were turning up and we just knew we would win, everyone was flying and I’m sure that’s the way Kelty will be. Whoever they play they will be expecting to win and quite rightly so.”
Not that the BUs will be going into tomorrow’s match at Newtown Park with an inferiority complex – far from it. They are on a four-game winning run of their own in the Super League, with confidence high.
Disappointment is still at the forefront of their minds however, a lingering feeling of injustice having had their appeal for a replay of their Junior Cup tie with Blantyre Vics thrown out last month, with Bo’ness feeling referee Chris Graham had broken competition rules by taking their third-round replay to extra-time instead of penalty kicks.
“It was a hard one to take, but to be fair we only had ourselves to blame,” Strickland continued. “We had two opportunities to get through to the next round and if you can’t do it in two 90 minutes against a so called smaller side, no disrespect to them, you don’t deserve to be in the next round. It’s a sickener and it puts a bit of a dampener on the season because everybody wants to be in the Scottish Cup – we hoped to win it.
“We’ll hopefully use it to spur us on, but it’s going to be tough for anyone to win the league because Kelty have been that consistent. Hats off to a team when they are that consistent, they deserve to be top and if they continue doing what they are doing they will win the league.
“We’ve got to hang in there and win our own games and you just never know what can happen. We’ll just keep plugging away, picking up as many points as we can and see where it takes us, but realistically its Kelty’s to lose.
“If we were to beat them on Saturday we’d see how they would react to a defeat because they’ve not tasted defeat yet this season.”
Strickland hasn’t hit the ground running like he’d have hoped after his summer switch from fierce rivals Linlithgow. It’s been stop start for the striker having picked up a knee injury in pre-season, but he’s hopeful he can find his best form in the second half of the campaign after netting last time out against Newtongrange Star.
He added: “I got off to a bit of a shocker of a start. I got injured in pre-season but I’m fit now and just waiting to get the opportunity again because wee Keasty [Fraser Keast] has been doing the business – he’s been scoring goals and the wee man has been flying, everything he has been hitting has gone in. I’ve just got to take my opportunity when it comes.
“Going to a new club you want to start off flying, so there was nothing worse getting injured early on. Injuries are part and parcel of the game and you’ve just got to get on with it, but it wasn’t ideal.
“I’ve had a poor season for my standards but this year I hope to kick on and do the business at the business end of the season.”