Bo’ness star senses title is now within touching distance

KEY MAN: Robert Sloan, right. has boosted Bo'ness this term
KEY MAN: Robert Sloan, right. has boosted Bo'ness this term
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Bo’ness United midfielder Robert Sloan is four games away from winning the Super League title in his first season in junior football after leaving East Fife last season.

The Newtown Park men know three wins from their remaining four league matches will be enough to clinch their second top-flight crown in four seasons.

Former Hearts youngster Sloan, who played a part as the Jambos finished third under Craig Levein in 2003/04 before leaving for St Johnstone, believes it is their title to throw away.

A 4-0 home win over Camelon on Monday night took Bo’ness back to the top of the table and crucially four points clear of their only realistic title challengers, Linlithgow Rose, who drew 2-2 at Bonnyrigg last weekend.

Bo’ness host Sauchie tomorrow aiming to repeat their first-half showing from Monday night when they racked up a three goal lead at half-time.

“All season we’ve been consistent. If we don’t win the league we’ll have thrown it away,” said Sloan. “We have the best squad in the league.”

Linlithgow have enjoyed a resurgence since Danny Smith replaced Mark Bradley as manager and are unbeaten in the league since February, but they have been chasing their neighbours for the majority of the season.

Rose cut the gap to just two points when their win at home to Sauchie two weeks ago coincided with Bo’ness drawing at Kelty. At that point, Linlithgow knew five wins from five would be enough for them to retain their title, but it was their turn to slip-up last weekend.

Sloan admits Bo’ness looked to be stuttering when consecutive draws away to Broxburn and then Kelty allowed a way in for Rose.

He said: “We have dropped four points from our last two away games. It wasn’t looking too good after I thought it was looking really good for us. The Camelon win was massive for us to go four points ahead of Linlithgow, and obviously put pressure on Camelon, who are still in with a chance with the games they have to catch up.

“We know we’ve got four games left, but we only need to win three of them to win the league. We’ve still to play Linlithgow but if we beat them that will be them basically out of it.

“It’s for us to throw away now, but there are still four hard games to go. It’s well within our capabilities if we can keep performing like we did against Camelon.”

Bo’ness host Sauchie at Newtown Park tomorrow aiming to repeat their first-half showing from Monday night when they racked up a three-goal lead by half-time.

Sloan is enjoying his first season at junior level and has linked up with Steven Hislop again, with the two having played together at Raith Rovers and East Fife.

It was Hislop who passed on Sloan’s number to Bo’ness manager Allan McGonigal, who then asked him to come along.

Sloan, who is out of contract in the summer but hopeful of signing a new deal, doesn’t believe there is a gulf in class between the lower divisions and junior level. “There isn’t a big difference between the standard of the lower leagues and the top junior teams,” he said. “We’ve got a right good team. I’ve watched second and third division games and there is not much of a difference.

“This year has worked out absolutely perfect if I’m honest, I couldn’t have asked for a better season. My contract is up at the end of the season, but I’m hoping to stay.”

Bo’ness haven’t had much luck with injuries in recent weeks, with Sloan joining Hislop, goalkeeper Mark Peat and Stuart Hunter on the sidelines recently. However, with four games remaining competition for places is fierce, as McGonigal has a full squad at his disposal.

Sloan said: “All our top players have been out injured for two to three weeks here and there, one after the other.

“The boys that have come in have done really well. On Monday night we had four or five players who weren’t even stripped.”