Preventing cheap goals is the key for Musselburgh Athletic

Matti King is one of the more experienced players at Olivebank
Matti King is one of the more experienced players at Olivebank
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Musselburgh Athletic striker Matti King believes the Olivebank side must stop conceding sloppy goals if they are to climb the Super League standings.

Calvin Shand’s men have amassed the most draws so far this season with five out of their 13 top-flight matches and would be sitting comfortably in the top half of the table had they not given away needless goals.

Buoyed by a stunning Scottish Junior Cup comeback away to Lochee United last weekend, in which they were 2-0 down with 15 minutes remaining but went on to win 3-2 with supersub King netting the winner with the last kick of the ball, they host league leaders Kelty Hearts tomorrow.

“We performed well throughout the whole match to be honest, so we were pretty disappointed we had to go to the wire to get the winner in the last minute,” said King. “We thoroughly deserved it to be honest. Overall in the whole match they had about 15 minutes of the game.

“The goals [we conceded] were avoidable, we said that amongst ourselves. We were disappointed to be 2-0 down. I was on the bench and I could see from the side that their heads never dropped. We’ve got a lot of young boys in the team and we’ve just got a never-say-die attitude that’s been built in by Calvin and Geordie [Kevin McDonald, assistant manager].”

King is well aware of the enormity of the task posed by a resilient Kelty side who have only dropped two points in their 15 Super League games – the Fife side’s form inevitably leading one bookmaker to instil Hearts boss Tam Courts as odds-on favourite for the East Fife job this week.

Confidence is high within Shand’s ranks after securing their place in the Junior Cup going into the new year, but they’ll have to avoid switching off at the back if they are to take anything from the match.

King, who re-joined the Olivebank club in the summer for his second spell following several years with Newtongrange Star, continued: “We know what we can do and even the games that we’ve drawn, it’s been goals we’ve caused ourselves. That’s what really annoys the boys and the manager as well – all the goals we concede are avoidable, the majority have been mistakes.

“We can’t seem to find an answer, it’s obviously just switching off. I don’t know what happens in people’s heads sometimes. There’s a lot of experience in our defence. Jono [John McManus] and DD [David Dunn] were at Nitten for years and you’ve got Matty Lynch who’s played through the leagues as well and is a really good defender, then Keiron [Renton] who is definitely up there as one of the best goalies in the Juniors, so we can’t work out why we’re conceding needless goals.

“We’ve got firepower upfront and in the midfield as well, and a lot of young boys who are willing to run and have great technical ability. As long as we cut out the mistakes at the back we will pick up points.”

Kelty have hit an incredible 46 goals in just 15 Super League matches so far this season, so you would imagine their arrival at Olivebank at a time when Burgh are giving away goals cheaply isn’t welcome. King believes they can cause the 2014/15 champions problems of their own, however.

He added: “They are flying and to be honest when we played them over there, they were different class. I don’t think there will be many teams above them to be honest, I think they’ll win it. Even when it’s looking like they are going to lose or draw, they seem to find a goal from somewhere. They’ve got that quality all over the park and wee Thommo [Craig Thomson] can play anywhere. I was with him at Nitten and he’s above anybody in the league I would say, he’s a great wee player.

“But we’ve got firepower of our own and coming off the back of last week, we are buoyed by that victory. We’ll definitely not be lying down to them anyway, that’s for sure.”

Elsewhere, Newtongrange Star host Fauldhouse United in a bottom of the table scrap, with both side’s tied on ten points. Penicuik Athletic host Dundonald Bluebell, while Linlithgow and Bo’ness are both on their travels at Broughty and Hill of Beath.