Penicuik Athletic are a team intent on proving their doubters wrong as they share a lead at the summit of the Super League table alongside recent champions Bo’ness United and Kelty Hearts.
Their impressive start to the campaign has taken many by surprise, with this just their second season in the top flight after finishing sixth following promotion from the Premier League.
They are currently on a run of six games without defeat heading into tomorrow’s match at home to basement club Tayport, in which they have the chance to make top spot their own with Bo’ness and Kelty on cup duty.
Striker Ryan McCallum is part of a side that has total belief in their ability to compete at the top of the table regardless of whether outsiders believe they can sustain a title challenge or not.
“The main aim for us was really to build on last season. We’ve added a few players and the way that we are playing this year, we definitely feel we can challenge right at the top end,” said the 28-year-old.
“First and foremost we want to improve on last year, but as players you want to try and win things so we’re pushing as much as we can to try and compete at the top end.
“I think we’ve surprised people outside Penicuik. In our changing room we aren’t shouting about anything and we don’t feel as if we’ve done anything that we didn’t expect to do, but other people have kind of taken notice a bit more. We’ve only been in the Super League for a year, so they maybe look at it as Penicuik making big strides, but as a squad we feel it’s where we should be just now.”
McCallum hit his fifth and sixth goals of the season last weekend as the Cuikie secured a point in a 2-2 stalemate at Camelon. Craig Meikle’s side were disappointed not to take all three points in the end as they missed out on the chance to steal a march on co-leaders Bo’ness and Kelty, who drew a blank at Newtown Park.
“People were surprised when we said we were unhappy about drawing a Super League game away from home, but it’s kind of statement of where we actually are just now - we feel we should be winning most games,” said McCallum. “[Craig] Meikle says every week now that he expects us to win, so it’s maybe a surprise to other people as opposed to us that we’re more disappointed than we should be.”
Forward McCallum is just happy to be playing regularly again after a series of injury troubles over the last two years prevented him from getting a sustained period in the side. Now in his third season at the club, he’s flourishing in attack alongside summer arrival Aaron Somerville, with the pair having struck up a prospering partnership. Former Whitehill Welfare man Somerville is just a goal behind his team-mate on five so far in the scoring charts.
McCallum added: “I’m just delighted to be fit and to get a good pre-season and I think the goals are coming as a result of that. The two of us playing together has been good for me and the club. It takes a bit pressure off me with another striker. Although we aren’t little and large, we do tend to do different things better and we are working well together.
“A lot of teams aren’t playing 4-4-2 now so I don’t know if we maybe catch teams by surprise. It’s working in our favour just now. I think we’ve scored the most goals in the league, so we must be doing something right.”
Penicuik are without a trio of key players for tomorrow’s match, with defender Dougie Cunnison out with a fractured arm which he sustained in last week’s match. Michael McDermott is at wedding, while Jordan Lister has an ankle injury.
Elsewhere, Linlithgow Rose look to get back on track after they surrendered their unbeaten start at Broughty last week when they host Sauchie.