Wedding means Whitehall boss may have to ‘altar’ plans

Ryan McKenzie, pictured in his Vale of Leithen days, will decide in the morning if he is fit to play tomorrow. Picture: Greg Macvean
Ryan McKenzie, pictured in his Vale of Leithen days, will decide in the morning if he is fit to play tomorrow. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Whitehill Welfare boss Mickey Lawson faces an anxious wait to learn if Ryan McKenzie is available for tomorrow’s Lowland League showdown with old rivals Spartans at Ferguson Park.

The former Vale of Leithen defender has been an ever-present for the unbeaten Rosewell side this season but that record could come under threat as he is best man at his brother’s wedding in Fife today.

“Ryan’s going to text me in the morning to tell me what sort of state he’s in,” said Lawson. “We’re only playing Spartans! We’ll make a few phone calls, count bodies and see what happens.”

Top scorer Wayne McIntosh is available after being suspended for the midweek stalemate with Edinburgh City following his red card at Threave Rovers last Saturday.

However, team-mate Gareth Thom drops out tomorrow after being dismissed at Meadowbank on Wednesday. Despite personnel issues, the Whitehill boss remains committed to an attacking philosophy.

Wednesday’s goalless draw was the first time the Ferguson Park club have failed to score this season, with 16 goals in seven games evidence that their adventurous approach is paying off.

“Every game we play, we always go out to try and win it,” said Lawson, right. “It doesn’t matter what the score is, we’ll go and try to win the game.

“We took Steven Manson off on Wednesday and put another real striker on. Young James Flynn, who’s only 17 and has played for Scottish Schoolboys, went on – he was another attacking option.”

The return of McIntosh is sure to be a big boost to the Rosewell club. The striker leads the scoring charts for Whitehill and his absence was keenly felt against table-toppers Edinburgh City on Wednesday. Lawson’s side remained a threat on the break throughout, but lacked the cutting edge required to turn one point into three – something they may well have achieved with their prolific hitman available. “Aaron Somerville was playing a lonely role against three defenders with Wayne not playing – they’ve scored 12 goals between them this season,” said Lawson.

Whitehill currently sit third in the Lowland League table – above tomorrow’s opponents on goal difference with both clubs having amassed 16 points.

Lawson, the former Spartans manager, believes the experience he has throughout his squad will stand them in good stead against the champions. “It wasn’t a makeshift team [on Wednesday] because everybody in this squad is experienced,” he said.

“We were without Willie Kidd, Wayne McIntosh and Darren McGlashan, while Ryan McKenzie turned up five minutes before the game, so it was a bit higgledy-piggledy.

“Darren comes back the middle of next week and Wayne is available again and we’re not sure about Ryan [McKenzie] yet but we’ve got an experienced squad.

“One thing we’ve been every game this year is competitive.

“Whoever is available, we’ll put out a competitive team and give it our best shot against Spartans.”