CIVIL SERVICE STROLLERS manager Alex Cunningham says his players have more than exceeded his expectations in the Lowland League this season.
The Capital outfit made the step up from the East of Scotland League seventh months ago but have more than held their own so far this term and currently occupy tenth spot.
The Christie Gillies Park outfit registered their seventh victory of the campaign with a 5-2 triumph at Hawick last weekend and are now just two points adrift of breaking into the top half of the division.
Another three points at home to BSC Glasgow tomorrow would see Cunningham’s men leapfrog their opponents and put them on the 30 points, a total, he admits, he could not have envisaged prior to a ball being kicked.
“The initial target has always been to stay in the league but if we keep playing well then we might be able to achieve a lot more,” Cunningham explained. “We want to finish as high as we can. It’s certainly been a good journey so far.
“We’ve overachieved make no mistake about it. We’ve won seven matches already this season and quite a few the draws we’ve had we probably should have won.
“I know it’s an old cliché but we just take one game at a time and try and keep the players focused. The training has been really good, we’ve got a chap Graham Robertson in at the moment helping us out and he’s been a breath of fresh air.
“When we looked at things at the start of the season I thought this is going to be tough as we can’t just go out and buy players and hope that it goes in our favour.
“Sometimes bringing in big name players can change the harmony of the place so we’ve got a good core. They all get on and there isn’t any superstars in the dressing room which I think helps. There’s just a really good work-ethic about them.”
One player Cunningham won’t be able to call on tomorrow is full-back Chris Milligan who suffered a double leg break against Gretna 2008 earlier this month – the 23-year-old’s season ended by a reckless challenge. However, Cunningham says the defender is making steady progress having undergone two operations.
“Chris is actually doing really well given the injuries he sustained and is a lot further forward than I thought he would have been at this stage,” he said.
“He’s talking about coming down to the game tomorrow on his crutches to watch so it would be great to see him. The boys have all chipped in and we gave him a cheque the other day just to try and keep him ticking over. It’s been difficult to lose him as he’s a really important player for us.
“But we’ve regrouped since and the boys are ready to give it a right good go between now and the end of the season.
“BSC are in a wee bit of a turmoil having sacked their manager Mark Adams recently. I thought they were doing well but that’s football. We’ll have to be up for it though as they will be coming here to prove a point. Most games that we’ve got left we’re in the hunt of doing something.”
Elsewhere, David Bingham takes his Whitehill Welfare side down to the Borders to play hosts Dalbeattie Star.
The Rosewell men were comprehensively beaten by East Stirlingshire last Saturday and with aspirations of finishing in the top four this season, Bingham will be hoping for a quick response.
Bottom-of-the-table Preston Athletic welcome Gretna 2008 to the Pennypit in what is a real must-win encounter for Craig Nisbet’s men.
The Panners trail nearest rivals Selkirk by six points but have managed just four victories this term – their last coming more than two months ago.
Spartans visit Hawick Royal Albert whilst Edinburgh University host Selkirk.