Civil Service Strollers boss Alex Cunningham believes the recent heart-to-heart with his squad has delivered an upturn in the club’s fortunes he was seeking.
Since the 2-0 defeat to Vale of Leithen at the end of last month, Strollers have picked up four points out of a possible six in the Lowland League and have also secured their place in the quarter-finals of the South Region Challenge Cup.
The Christie Gillies Park side now have the opportunity to finish this month off undefeated when they host East Stirlingshire tomorrow, a prospect, Cunningham admits, he couldn’t have envisaged given their substandard display in the Borders four weeks ago.
“The Vale match was a disaster so we had a sit down with the boys afterwards and had a chat,” Cunningham explained. “I think we had eight players missing for one reason or another so at this level of football that just isn’t acceptable.
“But since then we’ve had a great response from the players, we’ve been getting between 16 and 19 at training and we’ve found a wee bit of momentum on the park.
“The atmosphere has been good in the changing room and I know that on our day we are capable of beating anyone in this league.”
He continued: “East Stirlingshire will be another tough one for us but they have been blowing hot and cold too. They beat East Kilbride a few weeks back 5-0 so they must have something about them.
“We’ve drawn with them already this season so we just need to make sure it’s not a repeat of the last time they were at Christie Gillies when they hammered us 8-3. That was a really bad day. We want to keep our run going too.”
Cunningham has been active in the transfer market recently with the signing of experienced striker Scott Gormley. The former Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale and Whitehill Welfare frontman scored his first goal for the Capital side in the 4-1 South Region Challenge Cup win over Dalbeattie Star a fortnight ago.
“Scotty brings a lot of experience to us so he’s been a really good signing and I expect him to do well,” he said. “The unfortunate side of things is Froudey [Stephen Froude] is out for the foreseeable future with a back problem. He was playing through the pain barrier earlier on in the season, but he’s obviously done more long-term damage.
“However, a win tomorrow would see us move above East Stirlingshire and into the top half. We’re always there or thereabouts so it would be good to see us up there if possible. The challenge is to keep pushing and if we keep doing what we’ve been doing these last few weeks then we should be okay. We don’t want to become involved in a dog fight so you’ve got to keep trying to win football matches.
“We don’t have a game next weekend which is really frustrating as you want to try and keep it going because there will be weeks, looking at the weather forecast, where we won’t get a game.”
Meanwhile, Spartans will be desperate to atone for last week’s William Hill Scottish Cup heartache when they travel to the Islecroft Stadium to play hosts Dalbeattie Star.
Dougie Samuel’s men were denied a place in the fourth-round draw as Highland League outfit Fraserburgh, who were rewarded with a home tie against Rangers in the next round, came from behind to win 2-1 at Ainslie Park.
Elsewhere, Edinburgh University will be confident of picking up maximum points when Vale of Leithen are the visitors to East Peffermill.
Gary Small’s Whitehill Welfare play Stirling University at Ferguson Park.