Preston Athletic boss Craig Nisbet will make wholesale changes to his team for tomorrow’s South Region Challenge Cup second-round clash with East of Scotland opponents Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale.
Nisbet, who spent five years with the Panners as a player between 2000 and 2005, was livid with his side’s lacklustre display in last weekend’s 3-1 defeat by Civil Service Strollers that dropped his team to the foot of the Lowland League having taken just seven points from a possible 33 so far this term.
The manager won’t take up his customary position in the home dugout tomorrow due to a family holiday but has already informed his backroom team of Kevin Douglas and James Maloney of the players he will drop from the starting XI.
“I’ve shown a bit of loyalty to guys this season which was thrown back in my face a wee bit last Saturday so I now have to pick the best team possible that will win us games.
“We just never performed to our capabilities against Civil last weekend and I left the players in no uncertain terms after the game that there are very few of them guaranteed a start,” Nisbet explained.
“There will be at least five or six changes from the team that started last weekend, I can guarantee that. The guys that have been on the bench recently deserve their chance and I would be doing them a disservice if I didn’t give them the opportunity.
“There are certain ones who are not giving 100 per cent and the ones that choose to hide, the more obvious it’s becoming. We’ve told the guys we can’t afford to be in a relegation battle.”
Nisbet appreciates the quality of opposition descending upon Prestonpans tomorrow, Lothian having got off to a blistering start with 12 wins from as many matches in all competitions this season.
“Let’s be honest, most people will be expecting Lothian to beat us – I’m under no illusions that they are a right good side,” said Nisbet. “But so are we and we need to go in with the mindset that we are just as good as them if not better.
“It shouldn’t be an upset if we come away with the win but I’ve seen comments on social media going around saying ‘oh I’d expect an easy win for Lothian and if Preston win it’ll be a surprise’. But, for me, we’re every bit as good as any top-end East of Scotland side and can beat most teams in the Lowland League, but only if we perform to our capabilities.”
With SPFL League 2 outfit Montrose due to visit the Pennypit next Saturday on William Hill Scottish Cup duty, Nisbet revealed he will take in the Gable Endies’ home encounter with Elgin tomorrow whilst in the area.
“Montrose is going to be a real test for us. We have a squad of about 23, 24 and there’s a couple of trialists coming in the next few training sessions and I’ll have no hesitation to put one of those players in against Montrose ahead of the guys who are signed.
“We’ve got to go and try and win the game as there is no point in just being happy to be there.
Elsewhere tomorrow in the South Region Challenge Cup, Dorian Ogunro takes his Edinburgh University side up the M9 to play hosts Stirling University.
It will be the second time in seven days the two sides have come up against one another, Stirling having prevailed 3-1 on league duty at the Falkirk Stadium last weekend.
Meanwhile, Steven Hislop and his Whitehill Welfare squad are in action down at Moffat-based club Upper Annandale while Spartans, who Whitehill defeated 1-0 last Saturday, welcome South of Scotland outfit Lochar Thistle to Ainslie Park.