Musselburgh Athletic to put ‘strange’ spell behind them

Stevie McLeish has had to work with a small squad this term

Stevie McLeish has had to work with a small squad this term

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Musselburgh Athletic boss Stevie McLeish admits it has been a “strange” past four months at the Olivebank club.

Last season’s Junior Cup finalists were top of the Super League in December after they claimed seven league victories on the trot, but a mixture of disruption due to the bad weather in January and a lack of players at their disposal has seen them drop down to fifth.

A fifth-place finish would still rank as an achievement for McLeish’s men, who are just three points off the club’s highest points total ever in the top flight. However, one might wonder where they could be had McLeish had been able to add to his squad since the turn of the year. He currently has just 14 players to choose from with youngster Jack Wright set to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

“It’s been a strange four months,” said McLeish, whose side host Newtongrange Star tomorrow. “The first part of the season was fine but the thinness of the squad has done us. We’re still fighting, we’ve still got good quality and when we’re on our game we’re a dangerous team. It’s hard for the boys when they’re going to the well all the time. It’s very difficult. We’re in as high as a position in the league as Musselburgh have ever been in the Super League. Since September, we’ve sat in the top four or five and we’ll probably finish fifth or sixth and, to me, that’s pretty reasonable for us.”

McLeish has also had to contend with off-field issues. The players and management went a month without wages, partly due to the club going two months without a home fixture between December and February.

He added: “Most of the issues at the club have been resolved or are in the process of being resolved. The players were down because there was one month there was a mispayment of wages but that’s been rectified now, it’s not a big deal now.”

Burgh are without Alex Christie, who is sitting out the second match of a two-game suspension, although McLeish hopes to bring in a couple of trialists to boost squad numbers.

Elsewhere tomorrow, league leaders Bonnyrigg Rose visit Broughty Athletic as they bid to improve their one-point lead over second-placed Bo’ness, who are on cup duty. Fourth-placed Linlithgow Rose, who remain in the hunt for the title, visit Tayport.