Spartans are braced for toughest test so far this season

Spartans manager Dougie Samuel
Spartans manager Dougie Samuel
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Spartans are braced for their toughest test of the Lowland League campaign so far when BSC Glasgow are the visitors to Ainslie Park tomorrow in a top-of-the-table clash.

Dougie Samuel’s men have made a terrific start to the new season having won their first three fixtures to lead the way on nine points alongside Cumbernauld Colts, the only other team in the division to boast an unblemished record.

Tomorrow’s visitors are hot on their heels on seven points and know that victory in the Capital could see them leapfrog their opponents at the top.

However, another three points for the North Edinburgh outfit would ensure Spartans enjoying their best start to a season since the Lowland League’s inception in 2013.

Meanwhile, Whitehill Welfare, buoyed by last weekend’s first competitive win under new boss Gary Small, welcome last season’s East of Scotland League runners-up Leith Athletic to Ferguson Park for their Football Nation Qualifying Cup first-round tie.

The Rosewell club’s 3-1 win at home to Edusport Academy six days ago has lifted the mood in the camp after recent heavy back-to-back defeats by Selkirk and East Stirlingshire respectively.

Small is expected to be without Darren McCraw, the striker having opened the scoring last week before an innocuous incident saw his left knee pop out of place as the match was held up by 45 minutes while an ambulance arrived to transport the player to hospital. However, having sustained no further damage, McCraw is expected to come back into the fold sooner rather than later.

East of Scotland outfit Ormiston travel to the Borders to play Gretna 2008 at Raydale Park, also in first-round action. Richie Weir’s men have lost both of their Qualifying League Cup Group D matches despite some gritted performances.

Their opponents, meanwhile, last week accepted the resignation of manager Matt Henney but have moved quickly by welcoming back former boss Davie Irons into the fray along with Andy Aitken as the new joint-management team.

Elsewhere, there is a Capital derby as Civil Service Strollers host Lowland League rivals Edinburgh University in the second round of the Football Nation Qualifying Cup.

Both clubs will be looking to get their season back on track following recent defeats.

EoS side Preston Athletic will be looking for a higher-league scalp when they visit Vale of Leithen in their second-round tie.

And, in the East of Scotland League, Tynecastle and Heriot-Watt University begin their league campaigns at Saughton Enclosure.