Crucial week for Newtongrange Star in title race

Newtongrange Star's Chris King believes his team is heading in the right direction. Pic: Ian Rutherford
Newtongrange Star's Chris King believes his team is heading in the right direction. Pic: Ian Rutherford
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Newtongrange Star’s Chris King insists the club need to start taking points off their Super League title rivals if they are to have any chance of winning the league – starting from tomorrow.

Star have taken just one point off the so-called ‘big four’ in this campaign – an early-season draw against local rivals Bonnyrigg Rose. Since then, though, the New Victoria Park men have lost out to Camelon, Linlithgow, Bo’ness and Bonnyrigg. However, with a trip to Linlithgow tomorrow, followed by Bo’ness at home next Saturday, Star have the opportunity to arrest that statistic.

And after a 5-0 win away to Armadale Thistle last week –their first win after a run of four losses – they are in confident mood.

“We’ve only taken one point in the league against the bigger teams,” said King.

“It is something we’ve got to work on, we need to produce victories against these big teams if we are to go on and win a league. This is a big week for us. We are all hoping that we can get a victory there and then move on to the next again week. The more victories we can get between now and the end of the season, the closer we’ll be to winning it.

“If we can take something from the two games against Linlithgow and Bo’ness then obviously they’ll be dropping points as well. If we can get into a position where we are still in the hunt for the championship with three games left, then you’ve got to think to yourself ‘why can we not go on and do it?’”

The Super League leaders looked to have killed off their own title hopes after a fourth league loss in a row to Lochee United at the end of February, a run in which they could only score one goal. However, after taking beating Armadale last week, and seeing other results go their way with Bo’ness and Linlithgow both dropping points, they find themselves back at the top of the table, three points clear of second-placed Bo’ness.

King was delighted to get back to winning ways last week and even if Star don’t go on to win the title, he is adamant they’ve still had a good season.

Explaining that there wasn’t anything wrong with their performances in the four losses leading up to last week’s win, King said: “It was getting to that point where we were finding it difficult to get the win. It wasn’t because of our performances, we just couldn’t get goals. Unfortunately, once you go on a run of a couple of defeats it’s hard to get back to winning ways. To go out on Saturday and win 5-0 against Armadale, it was quite pleasing.

“After four losses and one win [in the last five games] to be sitting still three points clear at the top of the table, although Bo’ness, Linlithgow and Camelon have games in hand, is pleasing. We are going in the right direction. Whether we can win the league this season or not, we’ve certainly had a good season anyway.”

The 30-year-old attacking-midfielder is looking forward to another two years with Newtongrange after recently signing a new contract. King was part of the side last season which won the Premier League and got back in to the top flight at the first time of asking, after relegation the season before. They have surpassed all expectations to be leading the title charge with just five games left.

King admits his only regret from this season is the club’s early exit from the Scottish Junior Cup.

He said: “Coming up after winning the league last season to be sitting top of the league just now and on target for what we wanted as a squad and what the manager wanted from us, you can’t really say it is a bad season. Unfortunately, we went out the Scottish Cup early – we were expected to go further, but that has probably helped us in the league.”

And he is confident that even if they don’t end up winning the Super League title this season, that he’ll get his hands on the league crown within the next couple of years.

“I’m certain that within the next couple of years anyway, if not this year, that we’ll be up there winning the league and doing better in the Scottish.”

Newtongrange manager Alan Miller has a full squad to chose from for tomorrow’s match at Prestonfield Park, apart from long term absentees Darren Gillon and Joe Dunbar, while Jay Shields recently retired through injury.