BROXBURN boss Steve Pittman already has one eye on next season – even though his side haven’t yet reached the halfway point in the Super League campaign.
Last season’s Premier Division champions are holding their own in the top flight, sitting third behind big guns Linlithgow and Bo’ness after their opening nine games.
They got off to a flying start by beating Bo’ness 3-0 on the first day of the league campaign and have since defeated Hill of Beath, Kelty and Carnoustie.
Pittman is the first to admit it’s been the perfect season for his side to be tasting Super League action for the first time, as they’re not under any pressure. Due to an East Region makeover next season, there’s no relegation from the top flight this term, with four clubs coming up from the Premier Division.
“We are doing okay,” said Pittman, the former Dundee, Partick Thistle and East Fife defender. “We’ve had a few good results so far as well as few bad ones. The main challenge is trying to get a bit of consistency but, all in all, I feel we are doing fine in the Super League.
“When the boys put their minds to it, I reckon we are capable of getting a result against most of the teams in this division.
“We beat Bo’ness 3-0 right at the start of the season, for instance, but then we played them in one of the cup competitions and we lost 6-2.
“The reason for that was that they’d switched off and went into the game thinking that having beaten Bo’ness once it would be easy to do it again.
“They’ve got to learn to work hard in every single game and, to be fair to them, I think that is happening.
“The fact there is no relegation from the Super League this season definitely takes the pressure off. It is letting players see what it is all about without having any fear.
“It is also giving me the perfect chance to see who’s got it to play in this division and who’s not. I’m already looking at getting things sorted for next season as that is going to be a test for us.
“In addition to the teams we’ve got at the moment, there are going to be four good sides coming up from the Premier Division. Don’t get me wrong, we want to finish as high as we can this season, but I’ve already got one eye on next season.
“I want us to have as strong a squad as we possibly can, though that won’t be easy because it takes money to compete with the likes of Linlithgow and Bo’ness.”
Former Armadale and Bathgate player Lee Johnstone has been a recent addition to that squad, which has also been boosted this season by Pittman’s capture of Paul Millar.
“Paul was at Derby and Raith when he was younger but he then had a spell working away and was playing amateurs,” said the Athletic boss.
“He’s a central midfield player and has been doing really well for me, as has Fraser Keast, who’s on loan from Airdrie.”
There have been departures, too, with Pittman losing Stevie McIlhone as his right-hand man due to work commitments.
“That wasn’t the best thing to happen when you’ve just come up into the Super League, but it happens and you’ve just got to deal with it,” he admitted.
“I’ve not got a replacement yet. David Martindale has been helping me out but maybe something will come up, we’ll just wait and see what happens.”
Former Bo’ness defender Stephen Kiczynski also looks as though he’s on the way out from New Albyn Park after being targeted by Dave Baikie to bolster his Premier Division title assault at Ballingry.
“Stephen has done a good job for me but the likes of Stuart Cairns and Adam Fairweather have been doing well this season,” said Pittman.
“Ballingry have come in for Stephen and it is probably the right time for him to get a change of club.”
Weather permitting, Broxburn will entertain Musselburgh tomorrow, the two teams having fought out a 2-2 draw at Olivebank earlier in the season.
“Like every game in the Super League, it will be all about taking chances,” observed Pittman.
“In this league every team has good centre forwards and if you don’t take your chances, then you are going to be punished.”