Newtongrange Star will only give up on their Super League title dream when it is no longer mathematically possible, says captain Blair Tolmie.
League leaders Kelty Hearts are in the driving seat with a lead of 16 points and have just five games left to play. Five victories should be enough to clinch their first Super League crown, although Nitten could yet finish on the same points total if they win all of their remaining 11 league fixtures.
A tall order it may be, with away trips to Linlithgow, Bo’ness and Musselburgh still to come, but it a target that centre-back Tolmie is aiming for and one which he and his team-mates believe is achievable, although he freely admits that it is Kelty’s title to lose.
“Kelty have had the season they’ve had and they are kind of making the league look a lot easier than it is,” said the 25-year-old.
“Fair play to them for the run they’ve went on and if they do go on and win it, they’ve thoroughly deserved it.
“We’ll keep going until it is no longer possible and if there’s a chance of winning the league, we’ll not give up on it, but it will be difficult. It’s in their hands and it’s for them to throw away now. There’s a lot of hard games still to play and we want to go on and win them all.
“We don’t really fear playing anybody and we want to win all the games we are involved in.
“We just need to look forward to Saturday now and hopefully we can kick on from there.”
The New Victoria Park men have lost just twice in their 17 league encounters so far, the two defeats having come against the Fife club who have swatted aside all before them on their march to the league summit.
After losing 1-0 at home to Kelty on March 14, Nitten clawed back three points of the Central Park outfit’s advantage when they won and Kelty lost to Armadale a week later, but Star threw away a two-goal lead last Saturday at home to Fauldhouse to draw 2-2 as Kelty won at Olivebank.
“It was massively disappointing, but we’ve got to realise that the teams down the bottom are scrapping for their lives just now,” said Tolmie on last weekend’s result.
“I think Fauldhouse are actually in a bit of a false position, we’ve played them twice and I’ve been quite impressed with them.”
Tomorrow sees third-placed Nitten travel to bottom of the table Lochee United, who are without a win at their Thomson Park home since September – a run of seven matches.
Despite the Dundee team’s poor home form, Star boss Alan Miller isn’t anticipating a leisurely afternoon for his men, with their hosts desperate for points to avoid relegation to the Premier League.
He said: “We’ve seen in the last couple of weeks that teams at the bottom end of the table are now realising that they need to get their finger out if they want to stay in the league.
“Lochee are another team down at that end of the table looking to get points to secure their place in the Super League. We are under no illusions that we are going to another tough venue and we’ll have another tough day tomorrow.”
Rather than hope for other teams to do them a favour by taking points off Kelty, Miller is eager for his players to focus on completing their side of the bargain.
He added: “It’s not about anybody doing us favours – everybody is hoping that Kelty are going to drop points, but the fact of the matter is that we’ve got to look after our own fixtures and make sure we do the job.”
Star are without defender John McManus for the trip to Dundee, although brothers Kris and Keiron Renton will make a welcome return to the squad after missing the match against Fauldhouse.