Bonnyrigg Rose boss Robbie Horn warns players not to let standards drop, with one win needed to seal Lowland League title
The Lowland League leaders have secured their place in the two-legged pyramid play-off with five games to spare, but Horn wants his squad to focus on the next big goal of securing the title before thinking about the chance to earn promotion to SPFL League 2.
“I’ve told the players we can’t let our standards drop,” he said. “We can’t go into a comfort zone now because we think, that’s us, we have secured the position.
“We want to win the league but we have competitive games between now and when the play-offs come round, so we’ve got to be ready.
“The players that are maybe not playing will be pushing the guys that are in the team and that’s the only way we are going to be successful and, hopefully, go on and win the play-offs – if everyone is pushing each other.
“We can’t rest on our laurels. We have to keep going.”
Rose are still in the South Challenge Cup and travel to Arthurlie in that competition this Saturday, with a cup and league double header away to Horn’s former club, Berwick Rangers, next on the fixture list.
However, as the nominated club entering the pyramid play-offs, the Midlothian side will have the option of forfeiting the end-of-season Lowland League Cup.
They are due to travel to Berwick on Tuesday night in the opening round of that competition before returning to Shielfield Park in the league four days later on Saturday, March 12. Victory that day would secure the title.
Bonnyrigg are 13 points clear at the top and only the B teams of Rangers and Celtic, who play each other this weekend, can catch them.
With the Old Firm colts ineligible for promotion, Bonnyrigg’s 5-0 victory over Cumbernauld Colts in front of a bumper 800 crowd at New Dundas Park on Tuesday mathematically secured their pyramid play-off place.
But Horn and his players were determined to keep it low key.
“Obviously we didn’t celebrate that we’d secured it,” he said. “I think that’s just the mentality of the players. They want to win the league.
“I’ve said that for a few weeks now. I think once we’ve secured the league we can celebrate a wee bit and then look forward to the play-offs.
“I’m just really proud of them. Over the course of the season they’ve been outstanding and very, very consistent.
“I’m delighted we’ve secured the play-off position, but now we want to go and finish the job and win the league.”
Fraserburgh, Buckie Thistle, Brora Rangers and Brechin City are the four teams in the Highland League title race, but they still have at least nine more games each to play.
The winners of the two-leg play-off will then face the bottom side in League 2 – a spot currently occupied by Cowdenbeath – over two legs on May 7 and 14 for a place in the SPFL.
There’s a lot of football to be played between now and then, however, and Horn wants his winning machine to keep going and maintain momentum. They’ll take some stopping.