Spartans striker Jack Hay is hoping to break a losing habit tomorrow when rivals Whitehill Welfare are the visitors to Ainslie Park (3.00pm).
The 22-year-old, who has been a revelation for Dougie Samuel’s men since joining from Gala Fairydean Rovers in September, is desperate to experience the joys a derby-day victory brings having been on the losing side twice last season whilst plying his trade in the Borders.
Gala were beaten 2-1 by local rivals Selkirk last October before Hay, who was loaned out to the Yarrow Park club soon after, played in the 3-1 loss to Gala in January.
It was a somewhat unusual position for the frontman to find himself in, as he explained.
“I don’t have a particularly good record in Borders derbies having played for both Selkirk and Gala last year. I was on the losing side on both occasions there so I’ll be looking to put that right tomorrow in what is a really big derby for us. I just hope I’m not bad luck!
“We’ve already been beaten 1-0 by Whitehill this season so we’ve got to ensure that doesn’t happen again. We’re always the team to beat when we face any of our local rivals. That’s the way it’s always been.”
Hay, who has netted ten goals so far this term, revealed he and his team-mates have been kept busy over the festive break.
“It was good to have some time off last weekend but we’ve still been training and had a friendly against Broxburn on Tuesday night which we won 3-2,” he said. “I’ve been working a lot these last few weeks as I work in retail and also in a bar so it’s been a bit of a struggle to get to training.
“But now that the busy period is almost over I’m glad to be back and I played 90 minutes and scored the opener against Broxburn the other night. I’ve been playing well since signing for the club and scoring goals so it would be good to get a big win tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Whitehill boss David Bingham has urged his players to show greater belief having watched his side come from 3-1 down with just nine minutes to go to overcome Gala 5-3 in their last outing almost a fortnight ago.
“It was a great game for the neutrals, that’s for sure, but as manager, I felt we conceded some sloppy goals and that’s why we are where we are in the league at the moment (seventh),” he said. “But I’ve got to give the players immense credit to come back and win from being 3-1 down with such little time to go.
“Our aim is still top four and, although it’s going to be difficult, we’re not a million miles away. With having so many young players the one thing you’re not going to get is consistency but you’ve got to give them that platform to go and develop.”
Bingham will have to do without the services of key trio John Hall, Connor McGregor and Michael Osborne, who are all suspended whilst defender Dale O’Hara is on holiday.
But former Livingston and Dunfermline attacker Bingham insists that should have no bearing in how his players approach the match.
“Yes, we’re down on numbers so it’s going to be a very young side I put out but that’s not an excuse,” he said.
“There’s no pressure on them because no-one is expecting them to get a result but we’ve shown already this season we can beat Spartans.
“It’s all very well doing it on your own patch. We’ve got to go down there on a big astro turf and show that we can compete with the very best teams in the league.
“I’m really looking forward to it because I’m intrigued to see how the younger guys do. Their careers won’t be defined by what they do tomorrow but it will give me an indication of how ready they are.”
Elsewhere, Preston Athletic will look to extend their three-point gap over bottom club Selkirk when they entertain Alex Cunningham’s Civil Service Strollers at the Pennypit.