East Kilbride too good for Lowland League – Strollers boss

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Civil Service Strollers boss Alex Cunningham says he wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if runaway league leaders East Kilbride were to go the entire season unbeaten.

Kilby racked up their 14th league victory of this campaign, their 30th victory on the trot in all competiions, with a 4-0 win over Strollers in South Lanarkshire on Wednesday night.

And Cunningham, whose players had gone into the midweek encounter coming off the back of three successive wins that included an eye-catching 4-2 success over second-top Dalbeattie Star, couldn’t speak highly enough of what he witnessed at K-Park.

“They’re just too good for this league – it’s as simple as that. I don’t think there is any side in our league who are capable of beating them so if they don’t win the league I’ll be extremely surprised,” Cunningham explained.

“They are a very good side, move the ball around so well and that’s down to the quality they’ve been able to bring in with the money they’ve got – it’s exceptional.

“Our aim was to stay in the game for as long as we could, but all credit to them as they keep churning out results.

“We’ve beaten Dalbeattie, who are sitting second in the league but, if I look at our performances between the Dalbeattie win and Wednesday’s loss at East Kilbride, there wasn’t a huge difference from our own perspective.

“But Dalbeattie are nowhere the level East Kilbride are. I’m sure they would be a great addition to the SPFL so I have no qualms about Wednesday’s result whatsoever. Even when they are having an off day they’re still too good.

“But that game isn’t going to define our season and it never was. Let’s focus on the job in hand because the boys have been doing really well lately.”

One player who has stepped up to the plate for Civil in recent weeks is on-loan Hearts striker Russell McLean.

The 6ft 4in teenager has netted six goals in three appearances – including a hat-trick in the 5-2 win over Selkirk a fortnight ago – since teaming up with Cunningham at Christie Gillies Park last month.

“He’s doing so well for us,” Cunningham said of the 18-year-old. “I see a lot in him, don’t get me wrong he’s still got a bit to learn but he’s only a young boy. He’s a really nice lad so I’m going up at some point today to see if Hearts are willing to let us keep him until the end of the season because we have only agreed a deal up until Christmas. He makes such a big difference to my team.”

Civil are in action at Ferguson Park tomorrow where hosts Whitehill Welfare will be led by temporary boss David Bingham following Steven Hislop’s departure this week to take up the position of assistant manager at an unnamed club.

“Whitehill is a massive game for us,” Cunningham said. “I imagine David Bingham will keep things roughly the same as Stevie only left earlier this week. We’ve just got to focus on what we do and not worry about the opposition.”

Spartans, meanwhile, face the unenviable task of trying to become the first side to topple East Kilbride when the league leaders visit Ainslie Park tomorrow.

Dougie Samuel’s men will attempt to eat into the 16-point gap Kilby currently have over them by securing all three points.

Spartans did return to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Preston Athletic on Tuesday following last weekend’s disappointing defeat to East of Scotland League club Tynecastle in the third round of the South Region Challenge Cup.

Elsewhere, Edinburgh University are likely to face a stern test as Vale of Leithen head for East Peffermill. However, a win tomorrow for Dorian Ogunro’s squad could see the Uni, who are currently 13th, end the weekend in ninth spot.

Bottom-of-the-pack Preston are on their travels as they visit East Stirlingshire having managed just two wins all season.