Lowland League: City ready for Spartans test

Peter Stenhouse, right, says Edinburgh City are in confident mood

Peter Stenhouse, right, says Edinburgh City are in confident mood

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Edinburgh City perhaps face their toughest assignment of the season tomorrow with a trip across the Capital for a derby with Lowland League leaders Spartans.

The clubs were paired against one another on the opening day of the season back in August, Spartans emerging unscathed at Meadowbank courtesy of Jack Beesley’s second-half strike.

Fast forward almost three months and the two sides will once again lock horns, this time at Ainslie Park, visitors City hoping for a change in fortunes this time around.

City striker Peter Stenhouse has been the catalyst for the club’s resurgence in recent weeks, his contributions shared between finding the net himself and assisting his team-mates in and around the box. The 23-year-old said: “Everybody is feeling really happy at the moment.

“We’ve won two games on the bounce since the disappointing results against Threave and Fraserburgh in the Scottish Cup, so the confidence is back and we’re all looking forward to the game tomorrow.

“We just need to play our own game. We know how tough it is going to be so we can’t really prepare for them.

“They play differently each week so we’ve just got to do what we do best and try and keep Keith McLeod [scorer of hat-tricks the past two Saturdays] at bay. We’re going there for the three points.”

Last weekend’s 3-1 victory against East Kilbride was marred by the sudden death of one of the South Lanarkshire club’s coaches, Rab McMillan.

The 53-year-old collapsed in the midst of a training session with the club’s amateur side at the K-Park complex prior to the Lowland League clash between the sides.

Under extremely difficult circumstances, City managed to claim all three points from a venue that has proved notoriously difficult for visiting sides over the course of the season.

Stenhouse, a scorer last weekend, said: “It was horrible to hear what had happened before the match and it was difficult warming up.

“The game was in doubt about 20 minutes before kick-off, but their amateur side that were training before our game asked both teams to play the match, but obviously we were going to show our respects and not play if they didn’t want us to. It was a great result for us knowing that East Kilbride had only been beaten once before at home and that was against Vale of Leithen, so for us to go through and take all three points has really lifted our spirits.”

Stenhouse, who has been at the club for the past five seasons and graduated from the Under-19 squad, concedes there was a lot of frustration throuhgout the squad after an indifferent start which culminated in their first victory of the season coming after their sixth attempt. However, eight goals in their last two fixtures has lifted any lingering gloom, both Stenhouse and team-mate, Mark McConnell, regularly on song at the right end of the pitch.

“We seem to have bonded a lot better now as a team and we’re used to playing with one another,” said Stenhouse.

“We’ve cut out the silly mistakes we were making that were costing us goals at the start of the season and I think that is showing in our performances.

“It’s working really well – Mark’s that wee bit younger than myself but it’s great for the both of us to be scoring goals.

“Every game is tight and you can’t just go into a match expecting to be favourites now.

“We’ve never really had the squad that has been capable of challenging for the league in the past, but I think if we can carry on the way we’ve been going then we’ll be there or there abouts.”