Penicuik Athletic co-manager Kevin Milne hailed his players for grinding out all three points as they took a step closer to securing East of Scotland Conference A with victory over Oakley United.
The Cuikie were far from their best in difficult conditions on home soil as they maintained their five-point lead at the top of the table thanks to goals from Steven Notman and Wayne McIntosh.
Milne admitted his side weren’t in full flow, but insisted at this stage of the season three points is all that matters. He said: “At this time of the season, it’s all about getting the win; it wasn’t the best performance, but all it takes is a moment of class to get that goal. I never felt we were going to lose the game, but they had a wee bit of a threat going forward. I don’t know if it was the conditions or our mindset, I just don’t think we were at our game. Last week against Peebles, our movement was good and I don’t think we had the same movement or passing abilities as we did then, but you know what, at this stage of the season it is not always about performances, it is just about the result.
“We showed against Hill of Beath that it wasn’t just all about playing nice football. We are renowned for always playing nice football but this time last year it haunted us a wee bit – we were losing games that we probably should have won due to the conditions, but this time we are winning these games.
“No matter the opposition, it doesn’t matter, you still have to go and playing against eleven players and they made it difficult at times. Conditions like that, all I takes is a couple of moments of class and I think we got that. I’m delighted at the fact we can adapt. You have to perform differently against different opposition; sometimes you have to be a bit more physical and stuffy and a bit more direct.”
Milne’s side were given a huge boost in midweek as local rivals Newtongrange Star took all three points away to closest title challengers Hill of Beath and they can increase their advantage further when they host Peebles Rovers in midweek.
He continued: “There are other threats than just Hill of Beath now – you’ve got Musselburgh that are in the mix. As long as we keep winning, that is the most important thing. As much as Hill of Beath dropping points last week gives us a lift, it doesn’t change anything – we’ve still go to go and win every game. It does give us a bit of a cushion but, at the same time, that’s when things can get complacent, so there is a wee bit of pressure to keep that lead.
“We’ve got games coming up that are going to be real testers for us – I think every game is going to be a tester. The guys will have to do better than we did on Saturday.”
Home midfielder Dean Crabbe, son of ex-Hearts star Scott, had the home side’s best chance after 25 minutes when found by Arran Ponton from wide left – he swivelled and shot, with his effort flashing just past the post.
The opener arrived after 33 minutes, with Ponton again providing a threat from the left and cutting back for ex-Berwick Rangers stalwart Notman, who produced a terrific first-time volley into the top corner.
The visitors looked a threat on the break and they hit back four minutes before half-time, with the goal gifted to them after stand-in centre back Callum Connolly slipped whilst in possession, allowing pacy striker Tiwi Daramola to keep his composure and finish well past right-back Jordan Caddis on the line after goalkeeper Thomas Cordery had rushed from goal.
The winner would arrive just nine minutes into the second half with Scott McCrory-Irving lobbing the ball through for striker McIntosh, who lifted the ball over visiting goalkeeper Sean Robertson and into the back of the net.
Penicuik: Cordery, Caddow (Sampson), Ponton, Connolly, Young, Notman, McCrory-Irving, Jones, McIntosh, Crabbe (Stevenson), Somerville (Baptie).
Oakley: Robertson, Dawson, McAdam, McGill, Breen (Ward), Daramola, Murray, Love, Harrison (Allan), Powrie, Carroll (Donnolly).