Preston Athletic joint-manager Paul Riley acknowledges the threat Kelty Hearts pose to their East of Scotland League title chances, but insists these are the teams they must beat if they are to earn promotion to the Lowland League at the first time of asking.
The Panners suffered the heartache of relegation in May, but have been rejuvenated under management duo Riley and Jack Lynch, Preston currently in a rich vein of form that has seen them amass 22 points from a possible 27 so far this term.
However, current league leaders Kelty, who are yet to drop a point this season, are the visitors to the Pennypit tomorrow and Riley knows it will take a special performance to send the Fifers home pointless.
“It’s a massive task and to be honest it was a nightmare when I found out they were coming into the league, but if we have any aspirations of winning the league and going back up then these are the games that you have to win,” the former Hibs defender said. “I’m glad it’s taken until November for this fixture to be played because we’re improving all the time. Kelty are a settled team so we’re definitely better for the few months Jack and I have got under our belts.
“Our home form has been really good so we’re at the stage now where we at least expect to play well. Last weekend’s win over Tynecastle gave us a huge confidence boost.”
Riley singled out praise for 20-year-old striker Greig Binnie, who has been in terrific form of late.
“Greig has been outstanding so far this year and last week played up on his own against a strong Tynecastle defence,” he said. “He does a power of running for us but he can also find the back of the net. He’s a big player for us and is on the top of his game.”
Meanwhile, Heriot-Watt University will be desperate to get back to winning ways when they host struggling Eyemouth United at Oriam.
The students suffered a heavy 5-2 loss at Leith Athletic last weekend, their third league defeat of the season.