It is no secret that Edinburgh City have had a disappointing season languishing around the lower reaches of the Lowland League.
However, one positive to emerge from the Meadowbank side’s ranks has been the form of 19-year-old Mark McConnell, who has been a revelation this season – not solely for his attacking prowess, but his willingness to track back and help out his defensive team-mates when required.
After finishing second-top scorer for City’s Under-19s last season, the lively winger fully expected to make the natural progression of starting this season with the Under-21s. However, the teenager found his plans scuppered when the club announced there wouldn’t be such a side running in league competition this year.
It left McConnell unsure of his next move. Despite being invited to train with the first team and a move to Hutchison Vale a possibility, the teenager impressed enough in pre-season for manager Gary Jardine to ask him to sign on the dotted line for City – an offer which he duly accepted.
Ahead of tomorrow’s home match with Dalbeattie Star, McConnell, who has been at the club since Under-15 level, said: “I can’t complain with this season at all because I never thought I would play as much as I have done. Gary has showed faith in me and he has kept me in the team when I’ve played well.
“The league is a lot faster and more physical, but I’m really enjoying it. I just want to keep playing and I’ve set my own target of scoring ten for the season so I’ve got four more to go to reach that.
“Dalbeattie will be a tough test tomorrow, but we know we are capable of beating anyone on our day – especially at home.”
Elsewhere, revenge will be on the menu for league leaders Spartans as they welcome East Kilbride – one of only two clubs to have beaten them this season – to Ainslie Park.
A 1-0 triumph at the end of August for the South Lanarkshire side was something of an early-season upset, but Spartans have recovered from this minor setback to underline their position as title favourites.
Keith McLeod will be on a mission to find the net for the 15th match in a row and contrary to widespread belief, the Evening News has learned the 35-year-old striker has already eclipsed former Dundee United striker Finn Dossing for goals in consecutive games, the Dane netting 13 in season 1964/65 and not the 15 that had been suggested.
In accomplishing this feat, McLeod, Spartans’ all-time leading scorer has surpassed Everton’s Dixie Dean, who netted for 12 games in a row during the 1930/31 season, and equalled Brazilian great Pele, who struck in 14 successive games while playing for Santos.
Meanwhile, Spartans manager Dougie Samuel will be without strikers Robbie Ross and Jack Beacher while there are doubts over the fitness of both Ally MacKinnon and Jack Beesley.
After sealing their place in the last four of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup over Preston Athletic on Tuesday night, Whitehill Welfare travel south to tackle Vale of Leithen without Danny Noon, who has work commitments, and John Hall, who is on holiday.
Boss Mickey Lawson will hope to have Andrew Kidd available after the midfielder had to be replaced during the midweek 6-3 victory over Preston. Andy Martin and Mike Bruce are also rated doubtful.
Preston, meanwhile, will be hoping to atone for their latest setback when they entertain Selkirk at the Pennypit. Manager David Bingham has injury concerns over goalkeeper John Gilbertson and defender Keiran Dodd, but Dale O’Hara is expected to return after missing out against Whitehill.