Whitehill Welfare may have failed to win their last three matches, but top-scorer Aaron Somerville remains steadfast in his belief that the Midlothian club can still win the Lowland League.
The Ferguson Park side were unbeaten this season until their narrow 0-1 home defeat to East Stirlingshire in the William Hill Scottish Cup earlier this month. They have since followed that result with a 2-1 loss at in-form Stirling University and had to come from two goals down to rescue a point at home to Preston Athletic on Saturday.
Despite this mini blip, Somerville – who has netted 12 times this campaign – remains convinced Welfare have what it takes to mount a serious league challenge.
“I think we can definitely still win it, but it’s not easy. Look at it just now – Edinburgh City are flying,” he said. “Obviously we were hoping East Kilbride could do us a favour on Saturday, but it wasn’t to be. They’re the guys to beat just now at the top of the table. I can’t see them slipping up at the moment – they’re banging in the goals and shutting them out at the other end. But it’s up to everyone else to try and knock them off that perch.”
Manager Mickey Lawson felt his side have been lacking in composure and confidence over the last few weeks, but Somerville isn’t too concerned at their recent run and hopes they don’t alter their style as a result: “Maybe some of the guys have [lost a bit of confidence], but we’ve got together and we’re really just looking to keep playing football as opposed to changing it up and going long ball. I wouldn’t say there’s a massive loss of confidence – it’s maybe we’ve just not had the break of the ball the last few weeks. It’s not a major concern – it’ll happen for us, we’ve just got to keep working hard.”
Saturday’s opponents East Kilbride are just two points behind Whitehill with two games in hand, and the Welfare front man is expecting a difficult encounter: “East Kilbride have come into the league the last couple of years and have more than adapted to it,” he said. “They’re a good young side. They beat us last year through there, they were unlucky last Saturday – without wanting to take anything away from Edinburgh City – and Spartans have had real difficulties when they’ve played them. It’ll be a tough game for us.”
One man who won’t be in the dugout to see it unfold is Scott Cantley. He stepped down from his role as assistant manager this week due to work commitments and Somerville admitted he was sorry to see him go: “Scott’s a big loss to us – he’s a presence in the dressing room,” Somerville added. “Obviously, at this level your work commitments come first. I’ve realised that quite a lot this season with my work. Scottie’s obviously made that decision, but he’ll definitely be a big loss to us. Hopefully Mickey can get someone in soon.”