BONNYRIGG ROSE boss Max Christie believes his squad is stronger than last season as the Super League title holders prepare to welcome unbeaten Kelty Hearts to New Dundas Park tomorrow.
Christie has seen his side open the campaign with a 4-0 win over St Andrews before losing 3-1 at Camelon last weekend and is wary of the threat posed by tomorrow’s visitors.
Kelty boss Keith Burgess, the Scotland Junior manager, has added to his squad some talented players, such as Steven Bathgate, a prolific scorer with Hill Of Beath last season, plus a midfield pairing of Damon Gray and Brian Ritchie.
However, Christie believes his own charges are in good shape for an assault on several fronts this term.
“Kelty have started well, unbeaten in their opening games,” said Christie. “They were a very strong side last season but faded at the end. Keith has signed some really good players and they will be in contention for the title. They play with a lot of confidence and with a good start to the league campaign will be looking to kick on.
“We expect there to be three or four sides in contention to take our title, but we’re not giving it away easily. Teams like Linlithgow, Bo’ness, and Kelty will do battle with us but they’ll have a fight on their hands.
“Our main aim this season is to retain the title and do better in the Scottish Junior Cup. We reached the semi-finals last season and only lost out on penalties against Auchinleck.
“We want to reach the final at least. The players know this and if they want to play for Bonnyrigg then these are the expectations here. If they don’t have these same expectations, then they won’t be here long.
“The players here work hard for each other, though, and that’s what gave us the title last season.
“We have added to our squad with goalkeeper Andy Carlin and striker Kris Renton and I feel we’re stronger this season than last.
“There are some huge games coming up in the next few weeks, like the William Hill Scottish Cup against Stirling University but we’ll meet them head on and scrap for everything we can get.
“If we’re good enough then we’ll have a good season, but the league is a marathon not a sprint. Although it’s good to win cups, it’s the Super League we really want.”
Last Saturday’s setback at Camelon came as a shock to Christie after his men took a deserved lead through a Kris Renton header. However, in the second half they fell completely out of the game, losing three goals.
That hurt Christie badly and he is looking for a good response from his players.
He said: “Tomorrow’s game should be a cracker. We have a full squad, with some of the players who were out at the start of the season now getting a good run of 90 minutes in games.”
Elsewhere in the Super League, unbeaten Linlithgow travel to Dundee for their game against Lochee United. Linlithgow have a clean sheet after two games and a six-point tally. Boss Mark Bradley is delighted with the start and is looking to pick up another three points.
Troubled Bo’ness United are in Fife to face Hill Of Beath, while the two teams promoted last season from the Premier League, Sauchie and Broxburn, meet for the first time in the Super League. Sauchie are in the semi-final of the Dechmont Forklift League Cup against Newtongrange Star and have had a mixed start to their league campaign. The same can be said of Broxburn, winning one and losing the other.
Musselburgh are at Camelon looking to bounce back from their defeat at home to Hill Of Beath last week.