Penicuik Athletic boss Kevin Milne has warned his side to prepare themselves for a Newtongrange onslaught when the league leaders descend on New Victoria Park tomorrow.
Conference A leaders Culkie maintained their unbeaten run this season with a battling 1-0 victory over a much-improved Arniston Rangers outfit last Saturday, while Nitten will feel they have a point to prove after throwing away an early lead to lose 2-1 against neighbours Easthouses Lily.
Milne and co-manager Tony Begg are looking to put further distance between themselves and the chasing pack when they make the short journey to face Star. And the former Hibs Ladies coach is expecting a hostile atmosphere when the two teams lock horns, admitting he is aware of their rivals’ strengths and valuable 12th man.
“It’s a massive derby game and I think no matter who you’re playing, whether it be against one of your closest rivals or not, the fans can always act as an extra player, especially for the home side,” Milne stated. “Newtongrange are a big club and there’s no way we’re approaching this game thinking it’s going to be a guaranteed three points – far from it.
“Obviously, they haven’t had the greatest start to the year and they’ve maybe not had the best of fortunes lately, but they’ll be up for it and eager to bounce back immediately.
“We’ll need to be on our toes to prevent that from happening, but hopefully we’ve got that extra bit of quality to win us the game. We know we’ll need to be at our best.”
Milne, who yesterday strengthened his squad further by completing the signing of ex-Berwick Rangers midfielder Steven Notman, believes his players must keep churning out positive results.
He added: “Momentum is quite important at this stage of the season when you’re trying to win a league. The result perhaps didn’t reflect the performance, but we controlled the game against Arniston last week. It was just a collection of missed chances, good goalkeeping and a bit of bad luck as well that prevented us from scoring more.
“I know the players we’ve got here are more than good enough to go on and win this league, so we just need to keep our foot on the pedal.”
Despite suffering their first league defeat since crashing to a 4-0 loss against tomorrow’s opponents last November, Newtongrange remain on course to achieve a top-five finish.
Winger Kyle Scott knows the performance during their previous encounter was unacceptable and reckons they’ll have to be much better this time around to get something from the game.
He said: “I think we’ve got enough quality in our squad to cause Penicuik some problems. We’ve got George Hunter, who has been our main man this season and Sean Jamieson is also nearing a return to full fitness. We knew our performance level was nowhere near good enough the last time we played them, so we need to restore a bit of pride and put on a good display. There would be no better way to bounce back from a defeat than to beat the league leaders, but it’s not ideal that we have some key players, who always perform in the big games, missing.
“We know it’s going to be a massive test, but we’re all pulling in the same direction to try and win for each other.”
Star boss Stevie McLeish will have to do without suspended trio Dale O’Hara, Stevie Thomson and Kyle Lander, who are all currently in the middle of serving a three-match ban.