Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale manager Raymond Carr believes Leith Athletic will do everything in their power to prevent his side from retaining their Central Taxis Premier Division crown at Meadowbank 3G tomorrow (3pm).
Victory for Lothian will see them retain the title on goal difference but any slip-up from the Saughton outfit will mean an Easthouses Lily title party on Saturday evening.
“Leith play some very attractive football and it’s their last league game as well so they’ll want to go out on a high just as much as ourselves,” said Carr.
“They were leading at the top for so long and, like ourselves, they have invested their faith in their youth set-up: there is a clear player pathway for youngsters to develop and flourish at both clubs and it’s paid off handsomely.”
Lothian had the league title secured by April last season, but this season has been a tighter affair with three clubs in the running up until last week. And Carr, who replaced Kevin Twaddle as manager in February, believes it has been beneficial to the East of Scotland League, although he feels more work could be done to make the league a more attractive proposition.
“The gap between the Lowland League and the East of Scotland is not as big as people would think,” said Carr in the wake of Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Gretna 2008 in the Image Printers Cup Semi-Final. “If some of our players had the chance to play in the Lowland League I know they would relish it. We know we have the right criteria on the field to make a success of it. We’ve beaten Whitehill Welfare and Gretna in the space of four days so that tells you we have the talent at our disposal.
“We’ve had some really good performances over the last few weeks and if we play the same way tomorrow we will be league champions.
“Easthouses have also done tremendously well, but we hope they aren’t celebrating come Saturday night.”
Leith Athletic finish their league campaign safe in the knowledge that they have two trophies under their belt this season and will be hoping to add a third when they face Lothian in the final of the Image Printers Cup. Although their title dreams were ended last week, Derek Riddel can reflect upon a very encouraging season for Leith, with eight first-team players committing their future to the Meadowbank club for next season including promising youngsters Stephen Baigan and Kerr Allan.
Victory tomorrow would secure a runners-up berth for Athletic, with Lothian the last team to defeat them on home soil with a 3-0 league victory back in January.
Tynecastle play their last EOS fixture at Fernieside tomorrow before their move to Saughton Enclosure next season when they host Civil Service Strollers (3pm). Jamie Devlin and Michael Dick are suspended for Tynecastle, while Civil will be hoping to avoid any injuries and suspensions ahead of their SFA South Challenge Cup Final with BSC Glasgow next week.