Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale and Spartans EOS meet at Ainslie Park tomorrow with both sides looking to record their third consecutive win in the Central Taxis Premier Division.
The teams weren’t in action last weekend due to the bad weather and will be keen to pick up three points before the league enters a three-week festive break.
Spartans EOS manager Alex Cunningham will be missing influential midfielder Lucasz Rusin as he returns to Poland for Christmas, with a doubt over defender Blair McWhirter, who is struggling with an ankle knock.
“Both sides are in a rich vein of form and we are more or less at full strength for the game. It will be a tough match for us because Lothian have some real quality in their squad but hopefully a win will give us the confidence going into the Christmas break,” said Cunningham.
Victory for Lothian would lift them into second place above Easthouses Lily, and manager Kevin Twaddle is looking forward to resuming his friendly rivalry with his counterpart and friend at Spartans to whom he gives a glowing appraisal.
He said: “I rate Alex as one of the best coaches in the league. His philosophy on the game and how it should be played is second to none. He knows the East of Scotland set-up inside out and has nurtured a lot of good players at Spartans.
“We lost to them in September and that perhaps was the start of our inconsistent spell, but the players have been fantastic in our last two games. Whatever the result at the end of the game, I’m sure I’ll enjoy a nice festive drink with Alex afterwards,” added Twaddle whose only absentee for tomorrow’s clash is left-back Kevin Keane.
Tynecastle, meanwhile, travel to Stirling University with the Fernieside club missing Gavin McCarthy due to suspension while Bradley Scott is unavailable due to family commitments.
Craigroyston travel to Coldstream with both sides in desperate need of points at the bottom end of the league.
Gary Aitchison will be missing Matt Costello, Michael Somerville and Gerry Burgess but has signed Civil Service midfielder Nicky Rendall on loan till the end of February. I’ve got a good relationship with Ross McNeil and he was more than happy to send Nicky over to get some game time “ said the former East of Scotland select manager.
“It will be a difficult game because in John Crawford they have won one of the best strikers in the league. But my players are still up for the fight, training is still very positive and a good result before Christmas would give the club a boost heading into the New Year.”
Tomorrow’s match between Civil Service Strollers and Easthouses Lily has been postponed as players and management are due to attend the funeral of Murray D’Angelo, 28, who was tragically killed on the M8 motorway two weeks ago.
Heriot-Watt University head coach Chris Smith could be set to draft in a few members of his under-20 squad for tomorrow’s clash with league leaders Peebles Rovers at Riccarton.
The students return to league action for the first time since a 4-2 win at Ormiston on November 8, but Smith will be missing Fin Watt, Scott Kerr and Scott Davies as all three have returned home for Christmas.
“It will mean I may have to draft in some under-20 players for the game,” said Smith. “We are always a little thin on numbers at this time of year, but it’s something I’ve got used to.”
Watt welcome back Sean Muhsin after being cup tied for the Image Printers Cup clash with Leith Athletic, but both Brian Anderson and Michael Connolly are carrying knocks.
A win for the students would consolidate their third place in the table heading into the Christmas break, and Ormiston will be hoping that a slip-up for Peebles could provide them with an opportunity to top the league providing they can overcome Hawick Royal Albert at Albert Park.
Brian Johnstone’s side hammered the Borders outfit 7-1 in October will be hoping for a similar outcome tomorrow, with Liam Skinner the only absentee for the East Lothian side in a match in which Johnstone may field several trialists from the Junior leagues.
Both games kick off at 1.30pm.