Heriot-Watt University and Civil Service Strollers, who both occupy places in the top half of the Central Taxis Premier Division, face each other at Riccarton tomorrow with both managers determined to build on encouraging starts to the season.
Heriot-Watt were promoted as champions at the end of last season and head coach Michael Renwick is happy with his side’s performances in the opening three months of the season. “As a promoted club we have started really well in the Premier Division,” said Renwick. “That’s a big priority for us because I feel that with the squad we have we should have a successful season. We have given ourselves a good start and I feel that we now have a good run of games where we can capitalise on the good work we have already done, especially in our last league game against Edinburgh University which we won 1-0.
“No doubt, the Strollers will be thinking the same because they have games in hand, although I am only interested in what we can do and how far we can take it. We’ve got a good group of boys that know how to win, are confident at this moment in time and they are looking forward to the game. Our experienced players compliment our younger ones because it lets the young boys know the standard required although we have a good blend of students and graduates.
“Sean Muhsin is a big player for us and our goalkeeper Blair Carswell has done exceptionally well. Our back four has looked solid with two clean sheets but it would be unfair to single out any players because as a unit we look good. My experienced players have stepped up to the mark and they are producing what I expect.
“I have not had a chance to watch Civil Service Strollers but have been aware of their results. They have been a wee bit inconsistent but mainly in cup ties. We will try to play the way we always try to play, although we know it will be a difficult game. The Strollers will see it as an opportunity to go ahead of us with a win but we also want to move further ahead of them. I am looking to build on the last positive result which was against Edinburgh University and we are looking to continue with that form. I’m looking at the teams above us and trying to close the gap.”
Aaron James returns to give Renwick a full squad to choose from.
The Strollers, meanwhile, are unbeaten in the Premier Division after four games and manager Chic McAleavy, rather modestly, said: “We have done all right. We are still building a complete new team so we are not shouting from the roof tops about how good we might be.
“The boys are still learning to play with each other and it will not be until after Christmas that I will be able to say if we have progressed. However, I have to say that the boys have worked really hard, they have good work ethics and we are all absolutely delighted.
“Every training session is well attended, there is a real team spirit and we don’t have any super-stars. Individuals don’t win team games and we are just working hard together.
“I know that tomorrow’s opponents, Heriot-Watt, are a good footballing side and their league results show that. They play a lot of good football, they are very fit and they like to go forward.
“They are very well coached by Michael Renwick who obviously played at a high level with Hibs and they normally get better as the season goes on.
“For us to take anything we will have to be at the top of our game.”
The Strollers have not played for nearly three weeks because of water-logged pitches and McAleavy added: “It is a problem not having played for so long and the players are all desperate to pull on a jersey.
“I don’t know how they will start the game and the break could either work for us or against us. However, we are all looking forward to what is a big game with the home team, Heriot Watt the favourites.”
The Strollers will be without long term injury victim Charles McAleavy while Gary Burns is rated as doubtful although the experienced duo of Charlie Brigain and Eddie Mearns are both fit and raring to go.
The game kicks-off at Riccarton at 2.30pm with admission prices, adults £3 and concessions £1.