Whitehill Welfare manager Steven Hislop has told his players they are now playing for their futures at the club following heavy back-to-back defeats.
Having taken the lead up at Wick Academy a fortnight ago in the second-round of the William Hill Scottish Cup, the Rosewell side endured a torturous six-hour journey back to the central belt having shipped four second-half goals to crash out of the competition.
And things got progressively worse last weekend for Welfare as they were beaten 5-1 at Ferguson Park by visitors BSC Glasgow on their return to Lowland League duty.
Hislop, though, says he didn’t enter the dressing-room at full-time all guns blazing and instead chose to promptly remind his squad of the implications should he see a repeat performance against Stirling University tomorrow.
“They let everybody down last week and up at Wick the week before,” the former Livingston and Inverness Caley Thistle striker said. “Certain players have got to have a good look at themselves and it gave me an indication of who wants to fight and what lies ahead.
“I didn’t shout so I remained calm with the points I was putting across. At the end of last season I lost my rag a wee bit with the guys because I was so disappointed as I know the players have got it in them. I’ve said this season is about rebuilding and anything else is a bonus but that performance last week just wasn’t acceptable.
“I didn’t name them in the changing-room, that stays between me and Bingy [assistant manager David Bingham], but I told them I knew who had let me and their team-mates down.
“But unfortunately because of the size of the squad we’ve got, we’re going to have to play some of these guys again. It might give them a second chance to prove me wrong.”
Hislop, however, revealed he has run out of patience with midfielder Kevin Keane who is now available for transfer.
“For the guys that were there at training on Tuesday showed me who cares. I was really happy with the response and went home in a much better frame of mind,” he said. “But there are some guys who if they don’t play, the spit the dummy out. Kevin Keane is on the transfer list as he text me saying he wanted to leave having been on the bench against BSC last week. But he had started the previous four games! That just makes it an easy decision for myself.”
Hislop is now hoping some clear-the-air talks this week will have a positive outcome against Stirling tomorrow.
“Stirling are of a similar ilk to us as they’re a wee bit inconsistent,” he said. “After we beat Spartans 1-0 last month I said to the players ‘listen you’ve set your own standards so anything below that and you’re cheating yourselves’. They set them, not me, so when you get a result like that and then you get the last two weeks with the defeat to Wick and then BSC, you ask yourself ‘where are those performances coming from?’ You can’t pick and choose.
“I haven’t been able to put the same team on the park two weeks in a row this season. But I don’t blame performance on injuries because I have a squad that I believe is good enough.”
Meanwhile, Spartans will look to build on their 9-1 demolition of Hawick Royal Albert last weekend when they visit Gala Fairydean Rovers. Striker Jack Hay, who netted four against Hawick, returns to the club he left to join Spartans six weeks ago.
Civil Service, who were impressive 4-2 winners against joint-second top Dalbeattie Star six days ago, welcome Garry O’Connor’s Selkirk to Christie Gillies Park.
Elsewhere, bottom-of-the-table Preston Athletic host Dorian Ogunro’s Edinburgh University at the Pennypit.