Carnie braced for challenge of new-look Heriot-Watt

Lothian Thistle boss Grant Carnie

Lothian Thistle boss Grant Carnie

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Lothian braced for Heriot-Watt challenge

Grant Carnie’s Lothian side, third in the top tier, are three points adrift of leaders Stirling University but have played a game fewer. They will aim to capitalise on the availability of a full squad tomorrow in a bid to cut – or wipe out – Stirling’s lead on points.

Carnie said: “In the last five or six weeks, we have been missing bodies. We have not been great, but we’ve scraped through unbeaten. The young boys have done well but it’s hard to ask them to be consistent.”

As his team tries to rediscover their early goalscoring form, Carnie admits that with Heriot-Watt having recruited heavily, tomorrow’s match is something of a step into the unknown.

“Heriot-Watt have not won but they’re always fit and a hard team to break down,” he said. “Other than that, I don’t know what we’re coming up against.”

Watt will be led into tomorrow’s tie by former Hearts star Jimmy Bone, the assistant to manager Chris Smith, who is unavailable due to work commitments. Smith believes his team, who have gained no reward from four league matches this season, will be boosted by the addition of new faces.

“We now have the best part of 20 players in our squad,” he said. “Our trials finished on Sunday and we have brought a few new faces in. In our last three games, we have played well in the first 45 minutes, whereas in the second half teams have picked us off.

“With a bit of luck can come some consistency. It’s coming, and the players can sense it.”

The students have a few injury absentees and were yesterday waiting on clearance to enable a Frenchman and an Irishman to make their debuts.

In a top-of-the-table encounter, second-placed Tynecastle travel to play Stirling Uni with the aim of leapfrogging their opponents into first place.

Craigroyston have the chance to pull further clear of north Edinburgh neighbours Spartans when the teams meet at St Mark’s Park.

Edinburgh University and Civil Service Strollers, level on seven points with Strollers having played a game more, clash at Peffermill, while Leith Athletic will look to extend their advantage over Coldstream when they travel to the Border.