Lowland League: Preston aiming for chink in East Kilbride armour

Craig Nisbet's Preston Athletic sit bottom of the Lowland League
Craig Nisbet's Preston Athletic sit bottom of the Lowland League
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Preston Athletic captain Dave McLeod admits he felt as if he was doing the club a disservice having taken satisfaction from Selkirk’s draw with Lowland League leaders East Kilbride last weekend.

With the Panners left in limbo six days ago due to bad weather, Selkirk took full advantage over their bottom-of-the-table rivals with a well-earned 2-2 draw at home to high-flying Kilby – a point that moved the Borders side three clear of Craig Nisbet’s men in the battle to avoid the drop.

It’s Preston’s turn tomorrow as they travel to K-Park in South Lanarkshire where only Cumbernauld Colts have tasted success so far this term.

But, instead of being disheartened by the resilience shown by Selkirk, McLeod insists there is no reason why he and his team-mates can’t go one better.

“In a strange way, Selkirk’s result last weekend has given us all a wee bit of a boost,” the central defender said. “I think if we can keep it tight as long as we can then the more pressure that builds on them.

“It will be a real test and I don’t think anyone will be expecting us to go there and come away with anything. But it’s maybe just the kind of game we need, to be honest.

“We’re just taking things in small bitesize chunks at the moment. We were meant to be playing East Stirlingshire last weekend and have East Kilbride tomorrow, both difficult games, but our next three fixtures (Vale of Leithen, Gretna 2008, Stirling University) after this weekend are all winnable.”

McLeod revealed the squad have been champing at the bit since the agonising 4-3 loss at home to Gala Fairydean Rovers almost a fortnight ago – the hosts having come from three goals down at the break to level the match through Robbie Carter’s strike before a mis-hit from goalkeeper Craig Pennycuick gifted Gala striker Stuart Noble his hat-trick and the winner on the stroke of full-time.

“With the East Stirlingshire game being off last week we’ve had more than a week to stew over what happened against Gala,” McLeod said. “ We were looking at that as a must-win beforehand but as the game progressed we would have been delighted to have taken a point. It was a real gut-wrenching way to lose.

“But there have been a number of games this season where individual errors have cost us. It means a lot to us and we all care about trying to take the club forward. We know what’s at stake and we recognise that as a team.

“As captain I’m the one that has to put my arm around the players and take that responsibility on. There was some frustration in the dressing room after the last game and everyone could see he was hurting – he [Pennycuick] was in floods of tears.

“Nobody’s perfect and people do make mistakes but we must cut them out. These remaining nine games are crucial because we need to grind out some results to help us stay in the league.

“The manager has brought in a few new faces on loan in the past week [Kevin Keane from Haddington Atheltic and Lewis Turkington From Dalkeith Thistle] so hopefully they’ll both prove to be good additions to the squad between now and the end of the season.”

Elsewhere, Spartans will look to capitalise on any upset at K-Park when they host Shelley Kerr’s Stirling University at Ainslie Park.

The Capital outfit remain seven points adrift of Kilby in joint-second having failed to narrow the gap to five following last weekend’s 0-0 stalemate with Edinburgh University.

Uni, meanwhile, welcome Cumbernauld Colts to East Peffermill whilst Whitehill Welfare meet Selkirk at Yarrow Park.

Civil Service Strollers play Vale of Leithen at Christie Gillies Park.