Craig Nisbet backs Preston Athletic to breach Kilby defence

Despite East Kilbride having yet to concede in their opening three fixtures, Preston Athletic boss Craig Nisbet is confident his side will be first to put the ball in the South Lanarkshire side's net when the two teams meet tomorrow.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 19th August 2016, 5:30 am
Craig Nisbet feels Preston Athletic are on the up. Pic: TSPL

Title favourites Kilby have stormed to the summit of the Lowland League, taking nine points from a possible nine and scoring 12 in the process.

However, Nisbet says that kind of return doesn’t faze he nor anyone within the Preston camp, who began their own campaign with a fine 3-0 victory at Selkirk last month.

A further point picked up in the 1-1 stalemate with BSC Glasgow meant the Pennypit outfit were undefeated from their opening two matches before suffering a heavy 5-0 defeat to Cumbernauld Colts nine days ago.

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Nevertheless, Nisbet believes his squad have that fire in their bellies to spring a surprise in East Lothian tomorrow.

“They’re obviously firing on all cylinders at the moment,” Nisbet said. “It’s well known the budget they have managed to put together as a result of last season’s Scottish Cup match against Celtic. They’ve signed players this year who all have a very good pedigree.

“I’ve watched the highlights of their match with Dalbeattie and Dalbeattie gave as good as they got, they just didn’t take their chances. I’ll be stressing to the players that if we get a chance then we’ve got to finish it.

“If we can keep it tight then I can’t see us not scoring. We’re very good going forward so there’s no reason why we can’t score against any team in this division.

“We don’t fear them, we had a good record against them last season so they’ll not enjoy coming to the Pennypit.”

Nisbet, who played with the Panners in the East of Scotland League from 2000-2005, was receptive to the notion that the club has taken a bit of a nosedive in recent seasons. However, having taken up the role as head coach in December last year, Nisbet offered some assurances the committee is working tirelessly behind the scenes to help bring the club up to speed.

“It’s perhaps taken us a wee bit longer to get the infrastructure we’ve needed into place. We’ve done a lot behind the scenes, laying the foundations for the next three or four seasons,” he explained. “Our under-20s were very successful last season so hopefully we keep building our youths rather than bringing in big signings.

“The club’s target the last couple of seasons is to have finished outside the relegation zone. With two clubs being relegated this season, a realistic aim for us would be to finish no lower than 12th. If we could finish tenth then great and anything above that would exceed our expectations.

“The players are confident we can push up the league table. The squad is like night and day to last season’s group. We’ve brought in about 15 or 16 new players and only retained about seven from last year so we’re quite a new group to be honest.

“If we can start to compete for a top-four place over the next few seasons then I’ll have done my job well.”

Meanwhile, Spartans manager Dougie Samuel will be expecting a response from his players when pointless Selkirk visit Ainslie Park tomorrow.

The North Edinburgh outfit suffered a heavy 7-1 defeat to SPFL 1’s Stranraer in Tuesday night’s Irn-Bru Cup second-round tie at Stair Park.

Anything other than three points against Garry O’Connor’s men tomorrow would be deemed unacceptable with Spartans, who won the inaugural championship in 2013, having title aspirations of their own this season.

Elsewhere, Civil Service Strollers are in action at Broadwood Stadium up against hosts Cumbernauld Colts, Edinburgh University make the trip to Galashiels to play Gala Fairydean Rovers and Whitehill Welfare are also up against Borders opponents in Gretna 2008 at Raydale Park.