Newtongrange Star striker Kris Renton can’t quite believe their position in the Super League.
After two successive fourth-place finishes, the New Victoria Park outfit had ambitions of challenging for the title this campaign after a summer recruitment drive supplemented their already quality-laden squad with additions from the Senior leagues.
However, instead of fighting it out at the top end of the table in the last few months of the season, they lie in tenth place with their best hope a place in the top half of the division – a situation they shouldn’t be in according to Renton.
Star have lost their last three on the bounce and look to halt their poor run of form when they host Carnoustie Panmure tomorrow.
“You look around the dressing-room and we see the players that we’ve got and to be honest we’ve probably got one of the best squads in the league and I don’t think anyone would argue with that,” said the 25-year-old.
“There’s just something that’s not worked this season and no-one can put their finger on it. We’ve been saying for a while there’s going to be a game where we’re going to give someone a right good doing and then I think that’ll be us back – we need that to happen sooner rather than later.
“With the players that we brought in, everyone in the squad expected us to be up challenging and I think all the other teams expected us to be challenging as well. We’ve definitely not played as well as we should be, we’ve not hit the expectations that we set ourselves.
“It’s just been a freak season to be fair. No-one would’ve thought at the start of the season that we would be in the position that we’re in just now. I’m confident and the rest of the boys and the management are all confident that we’ll be able to get ourselves back to winning ways and where we should be pushing up the league.”
Renton has cut a frustrated figure up front for most of the campaign. The former Norwich City youngster, who became the youngest player to play for the Carrow Road club at the age of 16, has notched just 12 goals this season, with his target normally set at 25.
Newtongrange have only scored 20 goals in their 19 league games so far, the second lowest tally in the league behind bottom club Tayport, and Renton believes that is the source of their problem, although he revealed they aren’t creating enough chances in front of goal.
Renton continued: “We’ve not scored many goals at all. We are keeping the ball an awful lot and passing it about, but we’re not creating anything. We don’t create a lot of chances and that’s something that we definitely need to work on. We are making needless passes that we don’t need to make. We’ve got a lot of boys that like passing the ball about, but sometimes, especially at our level, we do need to get it forward and see if we can create anything.
“I’ve found it really difficult this season. Being upfront on your own is hard at the best of times, but when things aren’t going for the team and we aren’t creating any chances it’s really difficult.”
The responsibility to bring in the goals is a heavy weight on Renton’s shoulders with fellow strikers Lewis Coult and Matti King having departed the club in recent weeks, meaning Renton is the only out-and-out forward remaining.
“I’m basically the only striker that we’ve got left just now, so it’s difficult,” said Renton. “There is a bit of pressure on me, but we need to start creating chances first and foremost and then I’ll start the taking the pressure.
“It’s not as if we’re going out every Saturday and creating ten or 12 chances and we’re missing them all, we’re just not creating anything at all.”
Manager Alan Miller has attempted to alleviate the problem in the forward areas by bringing in attacking-midfielder David Morris from Berwick Rangers, while youngster Dwayne Coultress joined this week from the Shielfield Park outfit on a loan deal until the end of May.
Elsewhere, Bo’ness United visit Hill of Beath as they look to maintain their title challenge with leaders Bonnyrigg Rose on cup duty at Downfield. Musselburgh Athletic host Broughty Athletic at Olivebank, while Broxburn Athletic travel to Tayport.