Preston Athletic are yet to record a win this year – but Dale O’Hara is determined to break that run of form when the Panners welcome Edinburgh University to the Pennypit tomorrow in the Lowland League Cup.
O’Hara was on the scoresheet the last time the Panners picked up a victory, an eye-catching 2-0 victory for Willie Kirk’s men at Spartans back on December 13.
The former Hearts youngster is disappointed they haven’t been able to build on those three points and is hoping for a change in fortunes against the students tomorrow following another defeat last week at home to Stirling University.
“We definitely wanted to kick on from that,” said O’Hara, whose team have picked up just a solitary Lowland League point since that fine win over Spartans, a 0-0 draw with BSC Glasgow.
“We were meant to have two games after that and they both got called off. You want a game right after a result like that but any momentum just died.
“Last Saturday we were actually doing alright until we had a man sent off. I don’t know what was up with Chris [Cairney] – he went in with a few bad tackles and was arguing with the ref, who actually warned our captain to calm him down. Then the next time their boy had the ball he just halved him – it could have been a straight red. After that they scored from two crosses; just nothing is going for us right now.”
Manager Kirk took over at the East Lothian club back in September following the departure of David Bingham and, despite not seeing a major increase in points, O’Hara spoke highly of the impact made by the ex-Hibs Ladies coach.
“There’s definitely been an improvement. Willie’s a good coach; you can see that even in training. I know we’ve not really had the best results, but the spirit is still really good. He’s brought in players to try and strengthen too – the first week he was here he brought in three Hearts players [Alistair Roy, Liam Henderson and Aaron Scott – the latter has since joined Hibs]. He’s been trying to improve us as soon he got here.”
They will require a markedly improved performance from the last time Dorian Ogunro’s side were in town. The students inflicted a 5-1 defeat and it’s an experience O’Hara is keen not to repeat. “That was a horrible, horrible day. They were very strong, even when bringing all the subs on. Hopefully we can put that right on Saturday and get three points. We made the final last year so hopefully we win on Saturday which gives us a chance of reaching the quarter-finals.”
Preston will have to do so without goalkeeper John Gilbertson for tomorrow’s Central Section A clash after he parted company with the club.
Ross Gilpin was loaned from Spartans earlier in the season and O’Hara hopes something can be worked out to bring him back. “Gilbie will be a big miss – we don’t have a goalie. I played with him before when I was on loan at Tynecastle from Hearts and he ripped his hip flexor and I think that’s maybe had an effect since.
“Gilpin was on loan from Spartans but I’m not sure what will happen there. He’s not had a sniff at Spartans so hopefully he can come back.”
O’Hara also revealed he has been managing an injury this season. “I’ve got shin splints so I’ve been in and out the team.
“I went to see my old Hearts physio Ronnie [McGregor] and he’s helped me out a lot. I do a spin class every Tuesday rather than training on astro. It’s a lot better now and I’ve played the last two games.”