THE clock is ticking for Whitehill Welfare and the league table certainly doesn’t make for good reading.
Just one win all season, which came at the start of September, will feel like an eternity ago for the few surviving players who started the 3-0 win over Dalbeattie Star.
The writing appears to be on the wall with the Rosewell club having played two games more than their fellow strugglers from Dumfries.
However, one man who still retains hope of pulling off a great escape is defender Gary Hamilton.
The experienced centre-back joined the Ferguson Park men on a short-term loan deal from Penicuik Athletic last month.
Explaining his decision to trade a promotion push with the East of Scotland Conference A leaders for another survival scrap, the 28-year-old said: “I’ve been in the game a while and have experience of being involved in a few relegation battles in the past.
“I was at Newtongrange when they got relegated in the Juniors but were granted a lifeline when Kelty Hearts moved to the Seniors a few years ago and then again during my first season at Musselburgh Athletic, who were also struggling down at the bottom.
“I know Whitehill have been leaking a lot of goals, so hopefully I can solidify their defence a little bit during these remaining games and use my experience to spur on the younger lads.
“You never know what can happen in football. Results need to start falling our way quickly and hope Dalbeattie slip up along the road.
“I had a look at our remaining fixtures and they’re all definitely winnable games. We’ve got Gretna who are towards the foot of the table, Edusport who have been quite inconsistent and Edinburgh Uni.
“Stranger things have happened. The boys are keeping the faith and still giving maximum effort in training, so it’s all about picking up points and keeping things interesting now.”
Hamilton, who recently started his new job with the Scottish Ambulance Service, has struggled to get game time under his belt at Penicuik this season.
Ahead of tomorrow’s crunch encounter with Gala Fairydean Rovers, he admitted: “I was missing training or forced to work Saturday’s and because the Penicuik lads have been doing so well, I found myself sitting on the bench.
“Going out on loan seemed the best option at my age and I had a chat with Ian (Little) about coming in here to help out.
“The 6-1 defeat to Kelty was my first 90 minutes in almost three months. I’ve been slowly regaining match fitness and beating Gala on Saturday would be a good place to start a winning run.
“I know the standard of the teams in the league is high. We played Gala in a cup competition last December with Penicuik and beat them comfortably, so I know what they’re all about.
“If we can apply ourselves in the right manner, a positive result wouldn’t be out of the question.”
Meanwhile, Civil Service Strollers can cement a top-six finish if they sink East Stirlingshire, who kept their unbeaten start to 2019 intact after snatching an unlikely 2-2 draw against Gala last weekend.
Gary Jardine’s narrowly lost out in a seven-goal thriller the last time the two sides met but will arrive at the Falkirk Stadium tonight confident of reversing the form book.
Edinburgh University were denied their first league win in four months seven days ago, but the students will look to build on their improved recent performances with victory over Edusport at East Peffermill.
Spartans are also in action when they visit Stirling University at Forthbank on Saturday, aiming to stretch their winning run to five matches.