Penicuik Athletic midfielder Scott McCrory-Irving is hopeful the Midlothian men can realise their full potential in 2018 by challenging at the top end of the Super League table.
Johnny Harvey’s men led from the front in the early stages of the campaign after an unbeaten ten-game start, but their form has since waned a little having lost their last three in the league – dropping down to fifth and five points behind leaders Linlithgow Rose.
Tomorrow they host second-placed Dundonald Bluebell, whom they beat 3-1 in Fife back in August. Picking up maximum points from the fixture is the sole aim for McCrory-Irving, who swapped the Lowland League for the Juniors in the summer having spent two seasons with Edinburgh University, where he is in his final year studying Sociology and Psychology. “It’s kind of been a bit stop-start for us since probably October when we got our last league win,” said McCrory-Irving.
“That is maybe a bit distorted because we’ve hardly had a run of competitive games at all – games have been called off for two or three weeks in a row, which kind of killed our momentum.
“When we started the season as well as we did, it was easy to start thinking ‘If we just turn up we can win these games’, so maybe that has been partly to do with it.
“We were thinking we couldn’t get complacent but maybe naturally you almost begin to believe your own hype a wee bit.
“Maybe it’s not a bad thing that we’ve lost a couple of games, because it makes us realise that we really need to give our all to actually beat teams.”
The 21-year-old winger has certainly proven to be shrewd acquisition by manager Harvey, with seven assists in 17 appearances so far this campaign. He feels at home with Penicuik and believes they can get back on track by continuing to persevere with their pleasing-on-the-eye style of play.
He continued: “This is my first season in Junior football and I’ve noticed how close every team is in terms of standard in the league – anyone can beat anyone, so it can often come down to who wants it more on the day.
“I’ve really enjoyed it. The big difference for me has been the atmosphere at games – going from maybe having 50 people watching your game to about 200 – it makes it more of an occasion, I think. “The football has been good as well. I was slightly aware of it maybe being a bit more physical, a bit dirtier, but I’ve felt that’s not really the case at all.
“I do feel you get closed down a lot faster, which has helped me a lot as it’s teaching me to move the ball on as quick as I can or think a bit faster than I maybe would playing in the Lowland League.
“We are encouraged to keep the ball down and play – hopefully we can capitalise on the football that we are playing a bit more this side of New Year.
“I think we have a lot of potential with the full squad we’ve got.” Boss Harvey insists his side’s performance level hasn’t dipped but luck has deserted them instead. In their last fixture before Christmas – a 3-2 defeat to Bonnyrigg Rose – they were on the end of a controversial goal award.
“It’s not like we are playing poorly, we are playing pretty similar to the way we were at the start of the season – it’s just we’re not getting the breaks,” said Harvey.
“The Lochee game aside [a 4-0 loss at home], I wouldn’t say we’ve been massively second best in any other game.
“We’ve not been getting the rub of the green recently and hopefully that changes back in our favour.”
Elsewhere tomorrow, Bonnyrigg host Kennoway Star Hearts, while Linlithgow visit Carnoustie Panmure. Newtongrange Star take on Cumbernauld United in their Scottish Junior Cup replay with a trip to Bonnyrigg in the fourth round up for grabs.