Fit-again Bo’ness United captain Chris Donnelly says tomorrow’s opponents Bonnyrigg Rose are favourites to secure the East of Scotland Conference B title – but Bo’ness expect to beat them.
The two former Junior heavyweights meet at Newtown Park, with visitors Rose aiming to pull 11 points clear of their hosts at the summit, who have played several games fewer.
Midfielder Donnelly, who spent ten months out last season with a ruptured groin injury, recognises the sizeable task in front of Bo’ness given Bonnyrigg’s success over the past few years.
“They are probably one of the best teams easily in the last few years. I even thought they were better than Kelty [Hearts, last season’s East of Scotland champions],” said the 31-year-old. “I would rather have played Kelty; always thought Bonnyrigg more dangerous than them.
“They are a big strong team, they’ve been a decent team for the last few years now. They are big laddies but they are all good players at the same time.
“They are deservedly the favourites for our league. The way we are, though, we are expecting to go and beat them. There’s no point playing football if you aren’t thinking you can go and beat the other team.”
The BUs finished with nine men last Saturday in a 3-3 thriller with Dundonald Bluebell after defenders Ross Campbell and Will Snowdon were both sent off. They will both sit out tomorrow’s match, meaning utility man Donnelly could slot in at centre-half.
Donnelly will happily play anywhere for Steve Kerrigan’s men after last season’s nightmare. He continued: “I’m just enjoying being back involved. I’ve not missed a game – and it kind of feels like I’m back in my mid-20s again because I was out for that long.
“I was totally scunnered and wondered what to do, but I gave myself another pre-season.
“It took it’s time but it seems to have paid off now, it is alright. Hopefully that’s it put to bed because I don’t think I could handle standing at the side of the park for another nine or ten months.
“I even hate being on the bench, it’s not for me going standing and watching. I was getting the same questions every week asking when I will be back fit.”
Meanwhile, Heriot-Watt entertain Conference B leaders Linlithgow Rose at Riccarton, with Watt boss Banji Koya looking forward to seeing his players test themselves once again against Rose, who ran out 5-1 winners in the South Region Challenge Cup in September.
“We’re looking forward to the game. It is an absolute privilege for us at Heriot-Watt to be playing against them,” said Koya, in his third season in charge of the students. “The way things are it is hard for us to compete against Linlithgow.
“There is no fear, though, it is more of an excitement. We played them earlier in the season and we were very excited to go to Prestonfield. We actually played well, we started the game really well for the first 25 minutes, we took them game to them but the difference was they got one chance through Tommy Coyne and he scored.
“We’ve had a big transition from last season, the last two years we had a built a really big squad. It is a positive for me, but the only drawback is most of our big players left. Anton Dowds moved on to East Fife and is doing really well and couple of other players also moved on.
“Because we can’t offer money here at Watt, as soon as another team comes in, it is difficult for us. We are about developing players and if they move on then it is a positive.”