Honeymoon is over for Civil Service Strollers

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Civil Service Strollers boss Alex Cunningham has told his players that the honeymoon period of having been accepted into the Lowland League is now well and truly over.

The North Edinburgh outfit made the lucrative jump from the East of Scotland League in June after receiving confirmation their application to join the likes of Spartans and East Kilbride had been successful.

Despite getting off to the worst possible start that saw Civil thrashed 5-0 on home turf by fellow league newcomers Hawick Royal Albert, Cunningham’s men have responded by picking up four points from their last three outings.

Tomorrow they face arguably their toughest test so far when last season’s play-off pyramid beaten finalists East Stirlingshire visit the Capital and Cunningham and his players are braced for one helluva challenge.

“You just couldn’t have imagined we’d be lining up against them tomorrow,” Cunningham explained. “There we were this time last year in the East of Scotland League and they were in SPFL League 2.

“Now when you look at it, you’re pinching yourselves because you’re up against teams like East Stirling and East Kilbride rather than playing against, no disrespect, your Eyemouth’s or Peebles for that matter. It’s a totally different league and the players have got to give everything because if you’re not careful then you’ll get punished.

“Every Saturday that approaches, we really don’t know what we’re coming up against. But we’ve just got to go and compete and hope that the guys believe in themselves.

“But the bedding in period is over so we need to go and make sure we stay in the league.”

Civil’s outstanding moment so far of the campaign was the 4-0 thrashing inflicted on Gretna 2008, an outcome, Cunningham admits, not even he could have predicted given the opening day thumping by Hawick.

“The first game against Hawick was horrendous but the boys have got it back together and we’re looking that bit stronger,” he said. “It’s really not been all that bad. We now need to try and win some games but I fully expect ourselves to be in a wee league of our own with three or four other teams at the bottom end. Let’s not kid anybody on, we don’t have the backing nor the money that some of the bigger teams like East Kilbride have got.”

Cunningham had revealed in a previous interview his intention to reduce his rather oversized squad, however, a 2-1 defeat from Super League side Penicuik Athletic in Tuesday night’s friendly has now forced him to rethink his options.

“All the players are just loving it as are the staff and all the committee. But we’ve still not managed to cut the squad yet and the whole purpose of our friendly against Penicuik was to have a good look again at what we’ve got.

“It gave us a chance to see some of the ones that haven’t been playing and I’m looking and saying ‘right there are one or two I’m really going to have to let go’ but then they played really well so it’s all up in the air again.

“I think we’ll just have to run with what we have now. The boys that haven’t been playing are still there at training and I think everybody just wants to be involved.”

Elsewhere, Spartans will be looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the season when they travel to Alloa’s Indodrill Stadium to play hosts BSC Glasgow tomorrow.

Mid-table Edinburgh University await the visit of Gretna 2008 for their clash at East Peffermill, and Preston Athletic, on the back of their 5-0 loss at to league leaders East Kilbride at the Pennypit last weekend, will be hoping for better fortune from their trip to Hawick.

Steven Hislop’s Whitehill Welfare face a tough encounter against third-placed Dalbeattie Star at Ferguson Park.