East of Scotland preview: Newtongrange Star boss Chris King backs young squad ahead of Midlothian derby

Newtongrange Star welcome near-neighbours Whitehill Welfare to New Victoria Park on SaturdayNewtongrange Star welcome near-neighbours Whitehill Welfare to New Victoria Park on Saturday
Newtongrange Star welcome near-neighbours Whitehill Welfare to New Victoria Park on Saturday
Newtongrange Star boss Chris King has backed his young squad to deliver ahead of what he claimed is a “massive” week for the club, starting with a Midlothian derby clash at home to Whitehill Welfare on Saturday.

The New Victoria Park club looked certain to go down last season but were handed a lifeline - despite finishing bottom of the table when the season was curtailed in March- as the East of Scotland League opted for no relegations from the Premier Division.

For King, who took over at the club a year ago, the break allowed him the opportunity to rebuild on and off pitch, with just a handful of players remaining from last season while the changing rooms were renovated during lockdown, giving the club a home dressing-room to be proud of.

Lifeline and rebuild

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“When we took over we weren’t in a good position and probably out of all the teams we were guaranteed to go down, but with the way it worked out we got a lifeline of staying in the league and then got many, many months of preparation to get ready for this season,” said King.

“It’s been a total rebuild, I think we’ve only kept four or five players from the previous squad and now we have a squad size of 24. In our first game [of the season] against Camelon we got a draw and I think a lot of people started to take notice that we were progressing as a club.

“To bring in 19 or 20 new bodies, mostly young boys, and to get a draw against one of the league favourites in your first league game was a good thing for us.”

Mixed run of form

Star have endured a mix run of fortunes since then with an incredible 5-2 comeback win away to Musselburgh Athletic, after being 2-0 down at half-time, they went on to secure their first of the season. That result was followed up another first half humbling last weekend, as they found themselves 4-0 down to Dundonald Bluebell in a match they couldn’t come back from as they ended up losing 5-1.

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Their neighbours from Rosewell will arrive tomorrow desperate to get their first points on the board, with Star then hosting Dunbar Athletic in midweek before travelling to Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts next Saturday, in a run of three matches against clubs around them in the table.

‘Learning curve’

King added: “It’s a learning curve, we are going to lose and win games. There’s a lot of change in the team so there is going to be inconsistency there, it’s just about working hard in training and trying to put it right.

“It is a massive week for us, and probably those teams as well. We need to be confident going into it, we’ve had a better start than them and hopefully we can get it right going into Saturday.”

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