EoS: Lothian out to beat Leith for title despite advantage
Raymond Carr has revealed he would be going against his principles were he to send his Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale side out looking for the point needed to clinch the East of Scotland League title.
Reigning champions Leith Athletic travel to Saughton tomorrow in hope rather than expectation that come 4.15pm the old trophy will still be draped in black and white ribbons.
Lothian’s midweek 11-0 obliteration of Tweedmouth Rangers has now swung the pendulum firmly in favour of the hosts ahead of the final weekend of the 2016/2017 season.
That said, it couldn’t be more finely poised with Lothian three points clear of their arch-rivals with Leith now needing to win the game by three goals or more to secure their defence of the title by virtue of goal difference.
But Carr has the luxury of knowing his side could still lose the match 2-0 and end up champions whilst a point would also suffice.
However, the former Whitehill Welfare boss says he would be doing both himself and his players an injustice where he to alter his approach to anything other than trying to bring home the three points.
“We are going out to win the game, make no mistake about it,” Carr stressed. “It wouldn’t matter what I say, the players have that winning mentality in them so it’s not in their make-up. And besides that’s not the way I manage, I put out a team to win regardless and I’ll never change.
“With us scoring 11 against Tweedmouth, it will probably change Leith’s game-plan in how they’re going to approach the match. Yes it’s slightly in our favour now but both teams are quite capable of beating one another. It’s not over until you have that trophy in your locker.”
Carr continued: “It could have been more on Wednesday night to be honest. We hit the bar three times and their keeper made some decent saves. Even the people that were watching Tweedmouth took time to wait for us coming off the park and congratulated us. We’ve been getting back to how well we were playing at the start of the season. We had a wee slump around February when we lost to Heriot-Watt but maybe that was the kick up the backside we needed.
“The guys can’t wait for tomorrow. It’s all they were talking about in the changing room on Wednesday but it will be a different game as Leith still have a chance of winning the league and they’ll be giving it their best shot.”
Leith head coach Derek Riddel has admitted that whilst he fully expected Lothian to prevail in the Borders on Wednesday night, the margin of victory did catch him off guard.
“I knew they would win so it was just a matter of how many goals Lothian would score,” said Riddel, whose side were surprisingly held to a 2-2 draw at Tweedmouth ten days ago.
“They’ve gone out and done the job they needed to do. But it’s our own doing really with the position we’re in at the moment having dropped points down at Tweedmouth last week and losing to Tynecastle recently so these games may come back to haunt us. It’s tough to take but that’s the position we find ourselves in.
“But, the fact that we’re still in the hunt we’ve obviously got to have hope and we’ll go into tomorrow’s match with the belief that we can still win the league.
“We beat Lothian 4-1 at Meadowbank last season so there’s definitely an opportunity. We go into the game with no pressure whatsoever as everybody else will turn up at Saughton with the belief that Lothian will turn up, win the league and that will be it.
“Given the state of the pitch up there we were going to have to change how we play. To win the game is going to be a big ask as they’re not a team of idiots but to win it by three goals is an even bigger ask. But I think we’re capable of doing it and we’ll be putting a team out there who are capable of giving us the best chance.”
Elsewhere, fourth-placed Heriot-Watt University and second-bottom Ormiston finish their seasons at Coldstream and Tweedmouth respectively.