Striker Keith Lough says Penicuik have their sights firmly fixed on league leaders Kelty Hearts after they secured the bragging rights in a pulsating Midlothian derby.
Lough’s double, a Craig Hume header and an own goal lifted Johnny Harvey’s men up to fourth in the table after a 4-2 win while their rivals, who had Lee Currie sent off late on in a frantic second half, sit second from bottom.
The Cuikie are on course for their best-ever finish in the Super League under the tutelage of boss Harvey, who has stamped his authority on the side since taking over in the summer, bringing an attractive, pleasing-on-the-eye style to the club. Lough, who played predominantly as a winger last season, is flourishing in a new attacking role which is certainly reaping rewards, with Saturday’s two goals his fourth brace of the campaign.
“I played on the wing last year and filled in upfront now and again, but I’m loving it, I’m thriving off it and the goals are showing that,” said Lough. “I just need to keep my head down and keep putting the chances away.
“Johnny has brought his own style and we’re getting the ball down, creating space for each other and having a wee bit confidence on the ball to knock it about.
“It was a tough one with a lot to take on board with Johnny coming in. Once we started clicking, trusting each other on the ball, then everything started to move forward. We’ve scored a ridiculous amount of goals over the past eight or nine games, everything seems to be going well.
“We’re definitely looking up rather than down. Kelty are unbeaten so far and it’s hard to look past them. We’ll keep looking up and as long as we keep doing what we need to do, we’ll be fine.
“As long as we keep performing like we do and scoring goals, I think we’ll be up there.”
The visitors ended the 90 minutes comfortable and deserved winners, but it could all have been so different had Star capitalised on a dominant opening 15 minutes.
The home side created chance after chance, but such is their luck at the minute that they couldn’t find the back of the net.
Striker Errol Douglas was put through after just two minutes, only to see his effort deflected wide before a terrific last-ditch challenge from left-back Stevie Noble – returning to his former club for the first time – stopped Douglas in his tracks.
To make matters worse for Star, they fell behind to Penicuik’s first sight of goal as captain Hume rose highest in the box to head home Neil Janczyk’s free-kick.
Buoyed by the opener, the visitors wasted no time in doubling their lead leaving Star shell-shocked, as Lough nodded in Andy Forbes’ cross at the back post.
The home side looked vulnerable every time the ball was sent into the danger area and their defensive frailties were exposed once more as Lough sidefooted into the net at the front post from another Forbes delivery on 38 minutes.
After a half-time rollicking in the home dressing room, Star began the second period eager to somehow fight their way back into the match.
Despite dominating territory they couldn’t break Penicuik down, who were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure.
The victory was rubber-stamped 12 minutes from time when home defender James Young headed into his own net past Murray Jackson.
However, Star showed a bit of grit in the remaining ten minutes – something they’ll need to show more of if they are to start climbing the table – as substitute James Flynn hit a double. His second strike, a delightful curling finish, leading to Currie’s sending off as he tried to get the ball back.
Home boss Stevie McLeish rued their inability to get in front when they were on top saying: “We should’ve been 3-0 up before they even scored. We caved in after the first goal, as we’ve been doing for a number of weeks. It was a bad day at the office for 20 minutes which killed us. We switched off and lost three goals. That has been the story of our season so far.”
Newtongrange Star: Jackson, Swaney, Roseburgh, Hamilton, Young, Currie, Cropley (Lally), Lander (Morris) Bracks, Douglas (Flynn) Wilson.
Penicuik Athletic: Bald, Forbes, Noble, Hume (Inglis), Young, Janczyk, Connelly (Scott), Barr, Somerville (Sproule), Lough, Montgomery.