Despite handing the initiative to Bo’ness United in the race for the Super League crown, Newtongrange Star manager Alan Miller has not given up hope of achieving back-to-back league titles.
After winning the Premier League last term, Newtongrange had rocketed their way to the summit of the top flight in their first season back after losing just three of their opening 20 league matches.
However, without a win in their last three games, they have conceded top spot to a Bo’ness side, who have three games in hand over their title rivals.
Although Bo’ness – ahead of Star on goal difference – have their title fate in their own hands, they are still involved in three domestic cup competitions which, with such a demanding schedule looming at the end of the season, could potentially derail their title bid.
Miller believes there is still a long way to go in determining the destination of the title, and he has praised his players for exceeding expectations so far.
He said: “We’ve not completely given up hope of winning the league. When the midweek games start and when teams are playing three games a week, there could be an awful lot of twists and turns. Nobody is ruling out Linlithgow, Bonnyrigg and Camelon as well. We set a target within the club which was originally to break into the top six and it’s now to finish in the top four, and we should be able to achieve that comfortably. The players have been remarkable all season. In a promotion year to be where we are at this stage of the season, on the same points total as Bo’ness is really pleasing. Yes, Bo’ness have three games in hand, but they will have ten difficult fixtures to play before the end of the season – at a time when they are still involved in the Scottish Cup.”
Newtongrange face Lochee United at New Victoria Park this Saturday, hoping to arrest their recent slump. A win could take Miller’s side back to the top of the table, with Bo’ness in Scottish Cup action.
Miller is looking for his side to open the match better after bemoaning the start they made in their 2-1 loss away to Ballingry Rovers on Saturday which saw Star concede after just two minutes. He said: “We are not happy with the way we have started games in recent weeks.
“We are handing over the initiative to the opposition and then we have had to try and claw our way back into the game. When you start with that mindset and start with that tempo, you give yourself a real problem. We have to start the game better and that’s what the emphasis will be on this week. What we are trying to do is improve from game to game and we’ll try and get a result against Lochee on Saturday. Lochee are an experienced Super League side, whose recent form has been good.”