Senior football: Dalgleish won’t put principals aside

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TYNECASTLE team director Douglas Dalgleish will not stray from playing football “the correct way” – even if they are embroiled in a relegation battle.

The Fernieside-based club go into tomorrow’s clash with Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale in the knowledge that only a victory will give them a chance of avoiding relegation from the Central Taxis Premier Division.

Tynecastle are currently occupying second bottom spot and are three points behind Preston Athletic, although Tynecastle do have a superior goal difference and a win for them and defeat for Preston Athletic at the hands of Heriot-Watt University would see Tynecastle retain their top flight status.

Despite the tension surrounding the game, Dalgleish is adamant that it will be business as normal. “We will treat this game the same as every other that we have played in the last few weeks of the season,” he explained. “By that I mean that we will carry on playing football the correct way. Everybody connected with Tynecastle knows the importance of the game, but we will not be going gung-ho. We will carry on playing the way we have recently – and that has been excellent.”

Tynecastle played Vale of Leithen away on Wednesday night and returned with a 6-2 win to set up a thrilling climax to their season. The fact they still have a chance of survival is even more remarkable, as they only won one of their opening 12 fixtures and made managerial changes midway through the season. They have now won four of their previous nine matches and drawn one to give themselves an outside chance of survival.

“I thought that we played exceptionally well against Vale of Leithen with some outstanding performances and were well worthy of our victory,” continued Dalgleish. “We started brightly and scored a goal after only three minutes. Ross Weir then dislocated his shoulder and we had to re-organise which allowed Vale back into the game. However, Ousman See completed his hat-trick and Kevin Brown scored twice to make it a very good night for us.

“Tomorrow now depends on us winning and Preston Athletic getting beaten. Our season is not just about this particular game though because, earlier in the season, we lost some games which we should not have lost. We did not have a settled side, mainly because of injuries. All we could do after we changed the managerial set-up was pick up the pieces and it’s been far from easy, but I can certainly see the difference in recent weeks when we have had a more settled side.

“My final message to our players tomorrow before they leave the dressing-room will be to ask them all to show the quality they undoubtedly have and go out and get a result for the team. Within their own minds, all of our players know the importance of this game and what is at stake. I will be reminding them that any team that can take six goals off Vale of Leithen must have something in their armoury.”

Tynecastle will be without the injured duo of striker Jamie Butler and defender Ross Weir, but Jordan Caddow is back.

Lothian Thistle, meanwhile, are determined to finish as high up the Premier Division as possible and manager Grant Carnie has not ruled out the possibility of finishing as high as fifth position.

“Before I took over in the summer, Lothian finished third bottom last season and therefore finishing in the top half would be a successful season,” said Carnie. “The whole league has been closer this season and I personally think that’s been because there is not so much quality and that includes ourselves because we have been lacking something.”

Carnie was coached at Tynecastle from when he was ten-years-old and has a close affinity with the club. “I hold a high respect for Dougie [Dalgleish], so it’s not great for me to see my old club struggling to avoid relegation. It’s not nice for any club to be in that position because I know how much hard work everybody puts into their football club.

“However, Tynecastle are there for a reason because obviously the league table never lies. I can guarantee that this will not be an easy game for Tynecastle because I am a winner and I want to win every game. We will try to build from the back and play our normal passing game.”

Lothian have Ross Elliot out injured, Lloyd Dignan faces a late fitness test and Conan McDiarmid is on honeymoon.

The action kicks-off at Fernieside Recreation Ground at 2.30pm with admission by donation.