GARRY AITCHISON, the Civil Service Strollers manager, leads his side into Central Taxis Premier Division action against Whitehill Welfare with a message for his players: “There is no pressure on us!”
Aitchison, a former boss of the Rosewell club, continued: “We always go into games against Whitehill as the underdogs and that is the way we like it.”
However, the truth of the matter is that only four weeks ago the Strollers travelled to Ferguson Park and returned with all three points after a 3-1 victory thanks to a penalty converted by Liam Jack and further goals from Alan Wilson and Craig Anderson. “That was a great result for us although, to be fair, it’s been an all-round good season for us so far,” added Aitchison. We had a poor start but we picked up mainly due to players coming back from injuries just before Christmas.
“These players returning happened just at the right time and we took off from there. We have played a few more games than some other teams so we need to maintain this winning streak.”
The Strollers currently sit in third place on goal difference behind Gretna 2008 while they are nine points ahead of Whitehill, who have four games in hand.
Aitchison added: “We have at least 18 players at training every night and they are working very hard. We have one or two who cannot get a starting place because the team is playing so well but the atmosphere around the club is still superb.”
Aitchison knows all about Whitehill although he took the opportunity to check them out earlier in the week when they played a friendly against a young Spartans team at Ainslie Park.
“Whitehill genuinely have a great squad of players,” Aitchison admitted. “They have a top goal-scorer in Wayne McIntosh and Daryl Devlin has now returned to them.
“However, I prefer to concentrate on my own players and in Scott Gormley, himself a former Whitehill striker, we have a goal-scorer with 14 goals to his credit. Scott has proved that he can score goals out of nothing although I put a lot of that down to his partnership with Danny Rennie.”
Aitchison has been heartened by the return of club captain Russell Hogarth after a back injury sustained in a pre-season game and said: “Russell is a massive character with a superb attitude on and off the pitch.
“Both teams will want to play football and hopefully it will be an entertaining game.”
Meanwhile, in the Whitehill Welfare camp, manager Grant Carnie, whose first game in charge was that 3-1 defeat to the Strollers, watched his side come from behind last Saturday to beat Tynecastle 3-1. “After three weeks of postponements we just wanted a game,” said Carnie.
“However, we did not start too cleverly although we came back strongly and I felt that we saw a bit of the Whitehill Welfare that was playing so well at the beginning of the season.
“Tomorrow we play Civil Service Strollers who were the opposition in my first game in charge. On that day, they played really well, played good football and worked hard for each other. Garry [Aitchison] has them very well organised.
“The Strollers have Scott Gormley, a former Whitehill player who was suspended for that game, determined to score a goal against his former club. It should be a good contest with him up against our central defenders Michael Bruce and Willie Kidd who will definitely need to be on their toes.
“Our boys are hungry to win and get a run of games going to get back to where we all believe we should be.
“If we win our games in hand there is no reason why we should not be right up there near the top.”
Carnie has appointed Kevin Twaddle, the former Motherwell, St Johnstone and Hearts player as his assistant. “We have been friends for many years and I am delighted to get Kevin on board because he really knows what he is doing having played under managers like Paul Sturrock and Billy Davies.
“Tomorrow, he will help our players’ confidence and we will be working hard to pick up all three points.”
The game kicks off at the Civil Service Playing Fields at Marine Drive at 2.30pm.