Despite his newly-assembled squad being stretched to the limit, Musselburgh Athletic boss Stevie McLeish is hopeful his players can rise to the occasion in tonight’s home local derby with Penicuik Athletic (kick-off 7pm).
McLeish has only 13 players available to him and, given the turnover of playing staff at Olivebank over the summer, their task would be hard enough without the added selection problems.
Just two of the Musselburgh team which started against Auchinleck Talbot in the Junior Cup final two months ago kicked off the new Super League season with a 4-1 defeat at Carnoustie Panmure on Saturday.
Their successful cup run has come at a cost with a host of players having earned a move to senior football on the back of last season’s endeavours, which ended with a 2-1 defeat to Talbot at Rugby Park.
“We are certainly not the team we were two months ago at the moment,” said McLeish. “I think it will take time, but we will get there. We really are up against it tonight and it is going to be difficult for us. But, in adversity, guys seem to end up giving a bit of a performance, so we’re hoping for that to happen.”
Burgh’s preparations for their season opener were disrupted with goalkeeper Ally Adams moving to Linlithgow Rose on Thursday night and McLeish is eager to bring a replacement in quick, with youngster Murray Jackson the only other keeper at the club. McLeish described Saturday’s match as a “bad day at the office”, admitting he got his tactics and team selection wrong, but is looking for his side to bounce back tonight. He said: “It gives us a chance to redeem ourselves straight away after a bad game. It’s always a tight game against Penicuik and they are a strong side again this year.”
Striker Steven Thomson is out with a hamstring problem while both Brian Martin and Kevin Bracks are unavailable, although new signing John Hall is back from suspension.
Elsewhere, Bonnyrigg Rose face Newtongrange Star in the Midlothian derby at New Dundas Park, while Linlithgow travel to Camelon and Bo’ness host Hill of Beath.
In the Premier League, Arniston Rangers entertain Edinburgh United while newly-promoted Haddington Athletic host Dalkeith Thistle.