Newtongrange Star midfielder Chris King has admitted that the club needs to start beating the bigger Super League sides if they wish to fulfil their title dreams.
Star came close to title glory last season in their promotion year – leading the way at the top for most of the campaign before a disastrous season end left them in fourth place as tomorrow’s opponents Bo’ness United were crowned champions.
Star salvaged just one point from six games against Bo’ness, Linlithgow Rose and Bonnyrigg last year – the three sides who finished above them in the table.
King, though, believes that must change for Star who have started the season in fine fettle with just one defeat from their opening 11 league matches, insisting they must deal with the pressure and expectation that comes with being one of the league’s big boys.
“Tomorrow’s match is a massive test for us,” King stressed. “We are starting to come up against the better teams now and last year we never took a lot of points from them. This game will show whether we have improved or not.
“I think this season we’ve started off just as well as we did last year, but because of what happened last year it is always on our mind that we can’t let that happen again. We can’t go into games thinking we are going to lose.
“We need to deal with that pressure because if you are going to be one of the bigger teams you’ve got to deal with the pressure that comes along with that.
“We need to realise that to be the best you’ve got to beat the best and we need to step up and do that.”
King, who has notched six goals in the Super League and nine in all competitions this season, has regrets over not joining the New Victoria Park club earlier in his career. The 31-year-old attacking midfielder lists Musselburgh Athletic and Linlithgow Rose among his former clubs, but is adamant that the current set-up at Newtongrange is the best by some distance he has experienced.
With a solid infrastructure in place, King, who is fast approaching four years with the Midlothian club, believes a base is there for Star to become one of the best junior clubs in the region.
He said: “I wish I had signed with Newtongrange when I was younger, because out of every club I’ve been at, Newtongrange has by far the better set-up. It’s on a different planet with the stadium and training facilities compared to all the so-called bigger sides. I’m coming to the end of my career now and I wish I was here before to enjoy it a lot longer.
“Newtongrange are sort of kept in the dark because you’ve got your Linlithgows and your Bo’ness’s. Newtongrange is a better set-up than Linlithgow’s when it comes to your training facilities and on a week to week basis.
“If the gaffer can keep a hold of the squad, which has an average age of 24, there is no reason why they can’t progress to become the best team in this area.”
Their impressive start to the season came to a halt two weekends ago in Fife with a 3-1 loss to Kelty Hearts, but Star bounced back last Saturday with a 3-0 home win against Broxburn Athletic in the Fife and Lothians Cup.
Star hold a seven-point lead over Bo’ness who sit in fourth, but have two games in hand due to their William Hill Scottish Cup exploits.
Brimming with confidence after last weekend’s epic 5-4 third-round replay win over League 2 Elgin City, the BUs, who visit New Victoria Park tomorrow, are favourites according to King. However, he hopes the two games against Elgin will have taken its toll on several of their players.
“With the way Bo’ness are going just now, they’re probably going to be favourites,” King admitted. “But hopefully they’ve tired themselves out from the two Scottish Cup games that they’ve had.
“Because they’ve already beaten us a few times and they won the league, they won’t see us as big a game as what we see it as. I hope we can catch them cold and maybe they don’t expect us to be what we are going to be.”
Star will be without the services of long-term injury victim Guy Kerr who remains sidelined by a knee injury while visitors Bo’ness, are likely to travel without defender Stewart Devine.