Penicuik Athletic boss Craig Meikle is expecting ‘the real Penicuik’ to show up when they take on Linlithgow Rose at Prestonfield in the quarter-final of the Fife & Lothians Cup tomorrow afternoon.
The Cuikie have suffered since being knocked out of the Scottish Junior Cup by Musselburgh Athletic in March, winning just two of their last eight league games since the quarter-final clash with the Olivebank side.
Last season’s Premier League champions are guaranteed a respectable eighth place at least with two games of their league campaign remaining, but their season will end on somewhat of a whimper if they do not make it through to the last four tomorrow.
With their league status having been secured for some time and with the top places out of reach, Penicuik have been simply been going through the motions as they wind down to the end of the season and Meikle believes the lack of intensity has cost his team dear.
“I can’t wait for the league to finish,” he said. “It’s been difficult for the players to motivate themselves recently. It’s all very well me standing in the dressing-room and shouting at them, but I’ve been in that position loads of times myself where you have all these meaningless games towards the end of the season and by the time they finish, we will have had eight of them.
“It’s testament to how well the players have done that with eight games to go, we had already secured our place for next season, although I never thought there would ever be a doubt that we’d ever be involved at the bottom end of the table with the players we’ve got.”
Penicuik lost out 3-1 at home to Danny Smith’s side last weekend on league duty, with Meikle highlighting defensive errors and a lack of a sharp edge in front of goal as being their downfall. They can take confidence from their first away game of the season back in August however, when goals from Greg Ross and Ryan Gay secured a 2-1 victory at Prestonfield and Meikle would take a similar result to set up a semi-final clash away at Sauchie.
“For the first 20 minutes we absolutely hammered them, but as has been the case in so many games in the past few weeks, we’ve just not been scoring goals and on top of that we’ve been giving away goals with horrible mistakes.
“The first goal in football is huge and only once all season have we came back and won after losing the first goal. Likewise, every time we’ve scored the first goal we’ve never lost a game.
“Hopefully we can get back to what we had made ourselves good at, which was being difficult to beat and getting goals from all over the pitch.
“It’s our last chance to win silverware and hopefully we’ll see the real Penicuik turn up, not the shadow of their previous selves that’s been turning out for weeks on end.”
Striker Ryan McCallum is back for the visitors after returning from holiday, while Grant Killin is expected to be involved at some part, despite playing through the pain barrier in recent weeks with a recurring ankle injury.