Leith ATHLETIC manager Derek Riddel is adamant that his team can bounce back from their 3-2 defeat from Lothian Thistle last weekend when they face in-form Whitehill Welfare in the SFA South Region Challenge Cup tomorrow.
Last Saturday’s Central Taxis Premier Division defeat was sore to take for Riddel, who watched his team take the lead but then concede three goals in ten minutes. And, although Jack Combe did pull a goal back, they could not find the equaliser.
“There were a whole lot of circumstances immediately leading up to last week’s kick-off when the match referee telephoned to say that she was stuck in traffic leading up to the Forth Road Bridge and would not be able to make it to the game in time. The game was consequently put off but then the SFA got in touch to say that one of the assistant referees would take charge so the game was put back on. We took the lead through Greg Tulloch but he was then injured and had to go off and we lost control of the game for a while although, to be fair, the Lothian goalkeeper – Kevin Swain – was excellent throughout and kept them in the game.
“We lost our concentration and allowed Lothian to score three quick goals. It was very disappointing because it was a game we all felt that we could have won but for the fact that we gave away cheap goals.”
Turning his attention to tomorrow’s second-round game at the Telford College Sports Centre (kick-off 2.30pm), Riddel said: “Whitehill are one of the in-form teams at the moment and they will definitely finish in one of the top three places in the Premier Division.
“This is the biggest cup competition that Leith play in and we want to progress as far as possible although we know that it will be a tough task. I have watched Whitehill three times this season and they are very strong. In Wayne McIntosh they have one of the best strikers in the league. In fact, they are capable of scoring goals from all over the park.
Whitehill also have eight players in their squad who have Leith Athletic connections. Riddel, however, is confident of progressing to the third round.
Leith have Lewis Cairns suspended, Greg Tulloch out injured and both Gavin Tainsh and Jason Stevens face late fitness tests.
Whitehill manager Rab Paget is not getting carried away with his team’s early-season form. “We have done nothing yet,” he stressed.
“We lost a league game to Stirling University which was a sore one to take. I’m generally pleased with our start to the season although, in both of our last two games, we have had to come from behind and grind out a couple of wins.
“I was involved with Leith Athletic at juvenile level and I know their coaches and players very well.
“After their promotion last season they have had an indifferent start to this season.
“They have a young coach who is cutting his teeth at this level and a lot of young players who are still getting used to the Premier Division but, once they do, I am sure that they will pick up points.
“We will have to be at our best because Leith have some very good players including Gary Black who is one of the best central midfield players in the entire league.
“Leith will certainly be up for the game and we will have to ensure that we go into it with the right frame of mind, which will hopefully take us into the next round.”
Paget is adamant that his players have not been allowed to think ahead to next Saturday’s attractive crucial Scottish Cup second-round tie against Bo’ness United.
“We are not looking any further ahead than Leith Athletic tomorrow and the Bo’ness game has never been discussed,” he said.
Paget has made an addition to his squad by signing former Newtongrange Star player Scott McCulloch who has been in Australia for the past year.
“Scott will give us more competition for places and hopefully will feature at some stage against Leith,” added Paget.