Civil Service proves to be popular career path for players

Civil Service Strollers boss Alex Cunningham

Civil Service Strollers boss Alex Cunningham

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Civil Service Strollers boss Alex Cunningham has revealed the club has already tied down several of their first-team squad on new contracts for next season.

The Capital outfit have been a welcome addition to this year’s Lowland League having made the step up from East of Scotland League football last summer, finishing 11th in their debut campaign and just three points shy of a top-half finish.

And Cunningham, who took up the head coach’s position at Marine Drive in summer 2015, is of the opinion the nucleus of his squad deserve another crack at things next term.

Ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Dalbeattie Star to Christie Gillies Park on League Cup first-round duty, Cunningham said: “We’ve started that process of preparing for next year already. We’ve signed quite a lot of the players to new contracts but we still need to add to that.

“We have been speaking to one or two others with a view to them joining the club but what’s been interesting is we’ve actually had players phoning us up and showing their interest.

“We don’t want to break the team up too much as there is a really good spirit in the camp but, at the same time, we need to improve and I’m sure everyone else will as well. Our remit was has always been to stay in the league this season and we’ve done that. Our aim for next year though will be to improve.”

Cunningham continued: “It’s been a really interesting season, a bit of a rollercoaster in all honesty but we’ve loved every minute of it. I really think the players have done exceptionally well and we’ve achieved our objective set out by the committee.

“We’ve taken points against the likes of East Kilbride and Spartans so we’ve more than held our own. I was a bit apprehensive beforehand but next season we’ll have to do better.

“The step up from the East of Scotland League is big, make no mistake about it.”

Cunningham’s men inflicted a 4-2 defeat on tomorrow’s opponents on their last trip to the Capital six months ago and the former Spartans EoS manager sees no reason why his side can’t book their place in next weekend’s quarter-final where they’ll face the winner of tomorrow’s first-round tie 
between Hawick Royal Albert and relegation-threatened Preston Athletic.

“If the players can go out and produce the performances they have been then there is no reason why we can’t get through to the next round,” he said. “Dalbeattie are a really good side with some very good players so we have a tough ask on our hands.

“But I don’t think we should fear anyone in this league. It’s a cup game, there’s no pressure on us so I’ve told the players to just go out and enjoy it. We know this could be our last game of the season tomorrow if we were to lose but we want to keep the season going for another few weeks at least.”

Elsewhere tomorrow, Dorian Ogunro takes his Edinburgh University squad to Netherdale for their League Cup first-round clash with Gala Fairydean Rovers. The students finished the league campaign on a high last weekend with a resounding 4-0 win over bottom club Preston Athletic.

Preston, meanwhile, will aim to salvage something from what has been a shambolic season when they visit Hawick Royal Albert.

Whitehill Welfare, who are in the midst of a real slump having lost eight of their past ten matches, welcome Gretna 2008 to Ferguson Park.

And Spartans, who finished third in the table, travel to Lowland League champions East Kilbride on Sunday, 24 hours after the South Lanarkshire side’s Pyramid Play-off first-leg clash at Highland League champions Buckie Thistle.

Kilby, though, are expected to give some of their fringe players a run out at K-Park against Dougie Samuel’s men who will be eager to add to last month’s Football Nation Qualifying Cup final victory over Lothian 
Thistle Hutchison Vale.