Spartans full-back Craig Stevenson admits they must be wary of Cumbernauld Colts’ attacking threat when they travel to Broadwood Stadium tonight.
The reigning champions return to league action aiming to leapfrog their opponents in the table after last Saturday’s 4-2 Football Nation Qualifying Cup second round win over Hill of Beath Hawthorn.
Colts have started the new season particularly well after picking up two impressive victories against title contenders Kelty Hearts and, most recently, East Stirlingshire last weekend.
Craig McKinlay’s side will be confident of causing another upset and defender Stevenson is convinced the Spartans back-line will have to be at their best or risk dropping valuable points.
Stevenson, now in his fifth season with the capital club, said: “We’re looking forward to the game and getting back into league business.
“You’re always in for a tough game against Cumbernauld, especially away from home. Broadwood is always a difficult place to go.
“They’ve started the season really well and always seem to do better against the top teams in the division, so we’re expecting another competitive battle.
“We only picked up a point against Colts away from home last season, they were one of the only sides outside the top four who took points off us last year.
“They will be high on confidence after their result against the Shire, so we know we’re in for a difficult evening.”
A key factor behind Cumbernauld’s impressive start to the campaign has been the impact of star striker Sean Brown, who netted 25 goals for the club last term.
Brown has picked up from where he left off, finding his shooting boots in recent weeks – and Stevenson, 26, knows it will be crucial to keep him quiet.
He admitted: “In Sean Brown, they have a striker who scored a good number of goals last year, so we’ll have to be wary of the threat he possesses.
“I know he’s started this season pretty well also, so he’s obviously one we’re going to have to watch closely.
“It’s not just him, they’ve got a few offensive weapons that we’ll have to look out for. Getting off to a fast start is going to be very important.”
Stevenson has been pleased with his own form in the early part of the season and is adamant Spartans are over their Betfred Cup hangover after starting their domestic campaign with two sluggish back-to-back draws.
He stated: “Obviously, coming off the back of a tough Betfred Cup section, it wasn’t ideal to start with a couple of draws.
“However, the boys have done well in recent weeks and we’ve been scoring a lot of goals, so we’re all feeling relatively pleased with where we are at just now.
“Personally, I’m happy with how I’ve been performing and hopefully I can keep that going. There is increased competition for places in the squad now as well.
“The players that have came in over the summer are off a high standard, so it’s hard to keep your place in the team every week.
“The gaffer has been rotating the squad a bit just to keep everyone fresh because it’s a long season.”
Stevenson issued a positive update on manager Dougie Samuel, who is making steady progress after his recent heart attack scare.
He added: “Dougie has been back to oversee training recently and it’s great to have him back. He’s been coming to the games and saying his bit in the changing room before and after matches.
“He’s still got a bit of recovery time to go, so he’s been leaving the instructions for Darren (Cameron) and Derek (Riddel) in the technical area.
“They’ve both been superb in his absence and everyone has rallied together. Even while Dougie was away, his presence around the place was still felt by everyone. He’s that type of character.”