Blair Atkinson: Title-hungry Spartans are happy to fly under radar
Spartans striker Blair Atkinson reckons he and his team-mates are more than content to go about their business quietly this season.
The two-time Lowland League champions aren’t tipped to be in the mix for a third league crown with big-spending Kelty Hearts, East Stirlingshire and reigning champions East Kilbride all expected to be in the hunt.
However, having picked up six points from their previous two outings following a 2-1 defeat by BSC Glasgow, Atkinson insists they have enough quality to mix it with the very best.
The 23-year-old, who netted his first goal of the season in last weekend’s 2-0 win at Gala Fairydean Rovers, said: “I think people are writing us off already but it’s nice to be playing under the radar. We just need to focus on our own game. People are talking about the likes of Kelty, East Kilbride and East Stirlingshire but I think that just drives us on more.
“A lot of the younger guys have made the step up to the first team so it’s a good mix of experience and youth we’ve got this year.”
Atkinson has endured a frustrating start to the season having picked up a hamstring strain in last month’s glamour friendly defeat by Liverpool Under-23s, but he’s fit and raring to go again starting with tomorrow’s Football Nation Qualifying Cup first-round trip to Berwick Rangers.
“Last week’s win at Gala was my first 90 minutes of the season so it was good to get that under my belt,” he said. “It was great to get a goal too.
“I’m 23 now so I want to start making my mark. I think Dougie (Samuel) is looking for me to take more responsibility and score a lot more. I’ve been top goalscorer for the last two seasons but I’ve been in and out the team so I want to start as many games as possible.
“I think Berwick have already been written off because they’ve just dropped down into the league but It’s going to be a really difficult game. We can’t go there thinking it’s just a case of turning up but hopefully we can get the result and get through. It’s a cup game so you always want to go as far as you can.”
Elsewhere, it’s a familiar story at Peffermill as Edinburgh University host Vale of Leithen for the second time in just seven days. The students ran out 3-1 winners in last weekend’s league fixture.
Civil Service Strollers welcome Dunipace to Christie Gillies Park while East of Scotland Premier outfit Musselburgh Athletic host local rivals Preston Athletic,
Haddington travel to Arniston Rangers, Bo’ness entertain Oakley, and Dunbar United are at home to St Andrews. Easthouses Lily meet East Kilbride, Craigroyston are up at Glenrothes, while Broxburn travel to Jeanfield Swifts.
Edinburgh United are on the road at Kinnoull, Newtongrange Star host Leith Athletic and Heriot-Watt University await the visit of Tynecastle.
Meanwhile in the second round, Dalkeith Thistle play Burntisland, Ormiston are at home to Crossgates and Tranent travel to Netherdale in the borders to play Gala Fairydean Rovers.