Scott Maxwell is grateful for the game-time he has been afforded these past few weeks.
The Spartans winger has been dogged by injury this season, recurring hamstring and groin problems limiting the 27-year-old’s involvement to just a handful of appearances for the Capital side since September.
However, having overcome such adversity, the former Berwick Rangers man has started Spartans’ past three games during which the club has closed the gap on Lowland League leaders BSC Glasgow to just two points. Dougie Samuel’s men have also sealed their place in the quarter-finals of the Football Nation Qualifying Cup where they’ll face either Gretna 2008 or Peebles Rovers next month.
Maxwell made a scoring return in the 5-0 Football Nation Qualifying Cup victory over old foes Whitehill Welfare three weeks ago and has not looked back since.
Ahead of the visit of Gala Fairydean Rovers to Ainslie Park tomorrow, Maxwell said: “It’s been really stop-start this year so far but it’s been helped by the fact that the boys have done so well.
“It’s always at the back of your mind as to when you might get back playing. You set yourself targets but you can’t think like that all the time as it makes it worse when you don’t achieve them.
“I started the season well and got some games under my belt before I suffered the injury, and then came back only to suffer a setback, so I’ve just had to be careful and not rush anything.
“I was never injured when I was with East Stirlingshire and would play 35, sometimes 40 games a season but I became a bit more injury-prone when I was with Berwick Rangers. It’s always just niggly things so the last couple of years have been pretty bad, to be honest.
“But I’ve started the last couple of games and we’ve been winning so that always helps. The teams above us have been dropping points too.”
Maxwell believes tomorrow’s opposition, who are ninth, are better than their league position suggests. He isn’t taking anything for granted, given both BSC and reigning league champions East Kilbride have suffered surprising defeats of late.
“We’ve always had a really tough game whenever we’ve come up against Gala,” he said. “They’re a decent side with some really good players but they just don’t seem to be getting the results. I think most teams raise their game when they come up against us so we’re expecting more of the same again tomorrow.
“I’m glad there is no winter break and we play right through as it keeps the momentum going. It’s maybe not ideal for our families but it keeps us on our toes and the fitness levels up.
“We just need to stay on track but it’s definitely the best position we’ve been in since I came to the club. We have big games coming up against both BSC and East Kilbride, the only teams to have beaten us this year, but thankfully they have been dropping points to the other teams in the league. I don’t think these games will determine who goes on to win the league, though.”
Maxwell revealed last Friday night’s win over Stirling University meant the squad were in fine fettle for their pre-Christmas break to Liverpool.
“It was great to get the win so we could go down and enjoy our weekend,” he said. “There were a few people suffering on the Sunday, myself included, so the train journey back up wasn’t the best I’ve experienced!”
Elsewhere, Civil Service Strollers host fourth-placed Cumbernauld Colts at Christie Gillies Park tomorrow while Whitehill Welfare make the trip to Vale of Leithen.
Meanwhile, the students of Edinburgh University, who were beaten by their Stirling counterparts 2-0 on Tuesday night, are in action tonight when they take on Edusport Academy at Galabank.