One game from promotion after duo swap attire

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SUPERSTITIOUS manager Steve Pittman and his assistant Steve McIlhone swapped their touchline attire when Broxburn were going through a mid-season slump.

They’ve not lost since and now the pair are hoping the change will bring them one more bit of luck in the club’s biggest game of the season.

Tomorrow, Premier Division leaders Broxburn entertain Penicuik in what is effectively a shoot-out for a Super League spot next season.

It’s the final league game of the campaign for both teams, and Broxburn head into it with a three-point lead over their opponents.

A win or draw and they’ll go up, no matter how Sauchie fare in their final three games. Penicuik need a win, though a draw would still give them an outside chance if Sauchie slip up in the final furlong.

Pittman, an affable character, has done no media duties over the past few weeks, but only because he is working at Grangemouth at the moment and can’t take calls.

So it has been left to McIlhone, his trusty assistant, to talk about a ten-game winning run that has turned the club’s season around.

Asked if Pittman had become superstitious, McIlhone responded by letting out a laugh before revealing one of the circumstances which the Broxburn management duo believed had triggered their change of fortune.

“Like a lot of people, you’ll try anything when you are going through a bad spell,” he said. “So, when we were in a bit of slump earlier in the season, we decided we needed to change something.

“In the past, Steve wore a suit watching games and I wore the club tracksuit. But we decided to try it the other way round.

“The first game I wore a suit was against Newtongrange and we got a draw in that one before embarking on an eight-match winning run in the league – with me wearing a suit for each of them!”

Ironically, it was after a 4-0 defeat at Penicuik that Pittman and McIlhone did their own version of ‘Trading Places’.

“That was the start of our slump, but it’s been quite a turnaround since then and now we find ourselves involved in what is a fantastic spectacle for the Premier Division,” added McIlhone.

“It’s a great opportunity to get into the Super League under our own steam, rather than having to wait and see what happens to Sauchie, as even a draw will be good enough to secure one of the promotion spots.”

Given that Penicuik were out of the title race by Christmas last season, it is testament to the progress they have made under joint managers Craig Meikle and Brian Ryrie that they are now just one win from reaching the top flight this time around.

“I don’t believe there’s any manager in the league who wouldn’t want to be in this position heading into their final game of the season,” said Meikle. “I think everyone believes Sauchie will do enough in their final three games to go up and I think they’d deserve that as they are one of the top teams in the East Region.

“That means it is a straight shoot-out between ourselves and Broxburn and we are looking forward to that, even though we know it will be tough against the form team in the league.”

Earlier in the season, the Penicuik players were feeling deflated after being hammered 6-0 by Auchinleck Talbot in the Junior Cup.

But they bounced back brilliantly from that, with Meikle picking out one game in particular as the launchpad for their promotion push.

“Playing Auchinleck away was always going to be a tough one but I still don’t think we should be losing to any team by a margin like that,” he added.

“A lot of players, myself included, had off-days and we were punished for that.

“But we came back strongly and I think a game at Newtongrange at the start of the year was the turning point in our season.

“We won 2-1 that day and kicked on from that. Yes, we’ve had the odd blip here and there, but that’s to be expected, especially in a division as competitive as this one.”

At the start of the season, the two sides drew 2-2 at New Albyn Park in the League Cup. Now Penicuik are hoping to win there for the first time since it was revamped.

“We lost 3-0 last year and everything points to a Broxburn win, with the bookies having them as strong favourites,” said Meikle. “But, if we can go there and perform, then I believe we have a chance of picking up the three points we need to go up.”