Penicuik Athletic boss Johnny Harvey recognises their Super League title bid is dead in the water, however he won’t allow his players to stagnate as they aim to secure their highest-ever finish in the top flight.
Harvey’s men breathed life into their championship bid when they beat title rivals Linlithgow Rose 3-1 back in February but a recent loss to Jeanfield Swifts coupled with a draw at home to Camelon has allowed leaders Bonnyrigg Rose to surge clear in pursuit of title glory.
Penicuik sit in second place, three points behind East of Scotland-bound Bonnyrigg, but they have played three games more than the New Dundas Park men. After last season’s best-ever finish of fourth, Harvey’s side are well on course to surpassing that placing and are just two points off that points total ahead of travelling to Broxburn Athletic tomorrow.
Given the Cuikie are still competing in the latter stages of the East of Scotland Cup and Fife and Lothians Cup, these represent more realistic opportunities for silverware but Harvey won’t let his players focus solely on potential cup success just yet.
“Recent results have killed our title bid but we need to be realistic as to where we are and if somebody had offered me at the start of the season to be second in the middle of April and still in two cup competitions, with a realistic chance of getting silverware, I would have bitten their hand off,” said Harvey.
“I’m quite content as to where we are. We’re still looking to beat our points total from last year and we’d love to finish as high up the league as we possibly can; it looks like we’re fighting it out for the second, third and fourth position – along with Broxburn obviously.
“I don’t want us to take our eye off the ball too much because it would be a great achievement for us to finish second or third, and that will be the aim, but we’re realistic as to where we’ll be able to win some silverware, so a wee bit more of the focus needs to turn to the cups.”
Broxburn are unbeaten at home in the Super League and with just three more teams to visit Albyn Park this season, they are desperate to keep that record intact.
Penicuik have other ideas though, and travel to West Lothian intending to end Brian McNaughton’s side’s run.
Harvey added: “Brian and Hissy [Steven Hislop, Broxburn assistant manager] have done a great job since they’ve went in, they are flying high at the top of the league. The fact that they are unbeaten at home gives us a target rather than being fearful of that. It has to be our aim to go and try to put an end to that run.”
Broxburn boss McNaughton doesn’t want his side to just end the season unbeaten on home soil, and he has set his players the aim of going the remainder of the campaign unbeaten as they slug it out for a place in the top four.
He said: “We’ve got something to protect. We’d look to maintain not getting beat between now and the end of the season, and that’s something we’re looking to try and do.
“We’ve got a couple of massive games coming up against Penicuik and Linlithgow, they are both up beside us in the league and these two games will give us an idea of where we end up.
“Penicuik are a good team, they’ve been consistent right throughout the season and I’m sure it will be a great game. I think where we are just now is good, but we’ve got to be more ambitious; our aim is to try and win every game, we look at each game individually, so hopefully we can get closer to Penicuik.
“I knew Bonnyrigg would push on – they’ve got the best squad and players and I think they’ll win the league quite easily to be honest.”