Kevin Twaddle has admitted his Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale team could not have asked for a tougher first match of 2014 as they bid to maintain their Central Taxis Premier Division title bid with a win at Coldstream.
Twaddle’s men are equal with second-placed Craigroyston and Tynecastle on 19 points but, by winning their games in hand over those teams and league leaders Stirling University, could propel themselves to the top.
“We couldn’t ask for a tougher first game back than Coldstream away,” said Twaddle. “They’re a quality side, but, in saying that, our boys have been brilliant since I arrived. We go to Coldstream defending a six-game unbeaten run, so it should be a cracker.”
Craigroyston can keep up their own challenge at the top with three points over Heriot-Watt University at St Mark’s Park.
Gary Sutherland, assistant to Craigie boss Tom Hendrie, says the club’s management team has impressed on their players the importance of hitting the ground running in 2014.
“Tom has told the players they have to keep producing the standards they have set if we are to have a chance of winning the league,” said Sutherland.
Craigie have a full squad, including new signing Chris Inglis, from which to choose.
A south Edinburgh derby takes place at Peffermill, where Edinburgh University entertain near-neighbours Tynecastle. Tynie boss Stephen McKenzie hopes to add a new signing to his squad in time for the match, but Matt Costello is an injury doubt. McKenzie has been boosted by the recent return to training of long-term injury victims Finlay Matthews and Dean Cummings, both of whom could make the matchday squad.
When facing Spartans at Meadowbank 3G, Leith Athletic will be without captain Gary Black (groin), who is sidelined alongside team mates Lachlan Thom and Kenny Hall, who are both nursing knee injuries.
Leith boss Derek Riddel said: “I’m really looking forward to the second half of the season, and we’re looking to go on another unbeaten run.
“Spartans have done well this season and will look to come at us, so we’ll need to defend well. We drew earlier in the season, which was probably a fair reflection on the game. But, having home advantage, we’ll be looking to get three points on the board.”
On-loan Clyde striker Kieran McGachie is set to make his league debut for Civil Service Strollers at Stirling, with Strollers also preparing to field Danny McFadden, a recent signing from Musselburgh Athletic.