Something must give as Leith Athletic and Spartans clash

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Leith Athletic meet Spartans EOS tomorrow in the Central Taxis Premier Division, with both sides aiming to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

Athletic have began the season in impressive fashion with victories in all of their Qualifying League Cup matches and a 1-0 win over Craigroyston in the first round of the Image Printers Cup.

They have already taken full points from their opening league encounter with Coldstream a fortnight ago, but manager Derek Riddel believes tomorrow’s derby with the Ainslie Park outfit presents a genuine challenge to his side’s early run of good form.

“We’ve got two tough league matches coming up starting against Spartans this weekend. We played their Lowland League side in a friendly on Tuesday night just to keep the squad ticking over a bit. I didn’t read too much into the result of that game,” said Riddel after a 7-2 friendly defeat.

“We’ve been on a good run of form lately, but so have Spartans. We drew twice with them last season and like us, Alex Cunningham [Spartans EOS head coach] has added some real quality to his squad.

“We have a strong squad available to us this weekend and we have got clearance from the SFA to play our new signing Sean Murphy this weekend.

“I’m delighted to have him back at the club – he played for our 1995 youth side but he’s spent the last three seasons at Livingston. I’m looking forward to working with him and I’m confident that the boys can get the three points tomorrow.”

Cunningham is also excited by the challenge that Athletic will pose, his own side having kicked off their league campaign in emphatic fashion last week with a crushing 5-0 victory over Stirling University EOS.

“I’m expecting a tough game because they are flying at the moment,” said Cunningham. “Derek always tries to encourage them to knock the ball about and play in the right way, so it will be a very tight game.”

“But we also got off to a great start against Stirling University last weekend so, although the boys are still going through a learning process, I was delighted with the start they made.

“The 3G surface will suit both sides, so I’m looking forward to going there and playing with no fear and we’re certainly not going there to defend. But they are the team to beat at the moment because they’ve made a great start.”

Spartans will still be without Sebastian Pyda as he serves the last game of a two-match ban.

Elsewhere in the Premier Division, Easthouses Lily host Stirling University at Newbattle Complex, while there is a Capital clash at Fernieside Park as Tynecastle look to get back to winning ways after losing 7-4 to Coldstream last weekend in the Image Printers Cup against Craigroyston, who are still searching for their first win of the campaign.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, fresh from their Scottish Cup preliminary-round win over Burntisland Shipyard, face Coldstream at Saughton Enclosure.