Linlithgow Rose midfielder Adam Nelson admits he and his team-mates have to continue to handle the pressure of playing in front of their own fans if the club are to achieve their objectives this season.
The Prestonfield side dropped ten points from their opening six Super League matches at home, but have since won four on the trot on their own park.
Rose maintained their title challenge with a 2-1 victory at home to Fauldhouse United last Saturday. Kelty Hearts have a four-point lead at the top, with Newtongrange a point ahead of Rose, but both have two games in hand over the Fife club.
Tomorrow, Rose turn their attention to a fourth-round Scottish Junior Cup tie trip to North Super League champions Culter – the match having been postponed three weeks in a row due to the winter weather, with the Aberdeen club’s pitch frozen solid. The match will be played at Spain Park, home of Banks o’ Dee, if Culter’s Crombie Park fails yet another inspection this morning.
Rose will be seeking an away win to seal a last-16 place at home to Camelon or Troon, but Nelson, who sat out last weekend’s match through illness and will face a late fitness test ahead of tomorrow’s match, insists its their performances at Prestonfield that will shape their entire campaign.
“We had a bit of a patchy start to the season,” said the 30-year-old. “We were excellent away from home and we were really poor at home for some reason. We just couldn’t put our finger on it – we had meetings at training trying to figure out what it was.
“I don’t know if it was maybe the pressure of playing in front of the Linlithgow supporters, but you’ve got to be able to handle playing in front of your home fans. For the five years I’ve been at Linlithgow, the aim has been to win the league and the Scottish.
“If you’re not challenging then the fans and the people around the area see it is a bit of disappointment.”
The former Musselburgh Athletic player has taken command of the armband in recent times, with club captain Mark Tyrrell unable to regain his place in manager Danny Smith’s starting XI after a spell out with injury. Nelson signed a new three-year contract when Smith took over at the end of March after leaving his post at Camelon, and he believes his boss has put his own mark on the squad this season, which is helping to ensure a battle for first-team places.
“When he first took over near the end of the season, he sat us down and said he wasn’t going to change things dramatically,” he said.
“He said he was going to stamp his own authority in the summer and I think he’s done that.
“He tells you straight that if you’re not doing the business then you’ll be sitting beside him, or if you’re really unlucky, you’ll be in the stand.
“We have 20 fit players now so you can only strip so many and there will always be a couple sitting in the stand.”