Spartans boss Dougie Samuel expects a Vale of no fear

Dougie Samuel
Dougie Samuel
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Spartans’ manager Dougie Samuel expects Vale of Leithen to arrive at Ainslie Park for tomorrow’s Lowland League encounter with no fear.

Vale are unbeaten in the league since August with three wins and a draw from their last four fixtures. Recent victories away to Preston Athletic, Stirling Uni and a draw at Dalbeattie Star prove that the Innerleithen team are capable of picking up results on the road and Samuel is expecting a tough test for the reigning Champions.

“Vale are the form team in the league just now,” he said. “They’ve won a few games back to back and I don’t think they’re going to come to the Academy with any fear. They’ll come here and I’m sure feel confident about their chances, and so they should be – they’re on a good run.

“I’ll concentrate on us and focus on Spartans, prepare us as best we can and we’ll do what we always do, which is go out and try and win the football match.”

The former Edinburgh Uni manager has admitted he’ll need to gauge the availability in his squad following Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with his old team at East Peffermill. Jack Beacher was forced off shortly after netting Spartans’ equaliser and Samuel has had to change his team regularly in recent weeks.

“The first thing we’ll have to do is have a look at who’s available,” he explained. “The availability of players is almost changing on a game by game basis, so we’ll have a look at that.”

The Ainslie Park side maybe should have turned their second-half superiority into goals at Peffermill in midweek. They put their hosts under a considerable amount of pressure after the break and spurned two or three good opportunities prior to eventually taking the lead.

There were further chances to put the game out of sight with a third goal that were passed up and the manager is determined to put that right.

“We’ll learn from some of the mistakes we made on Wednesday and keep focussing on trying to create chances and keep working hard with the players in training to try and improve confidence in front of goal.”

Samuel’s side sit second in the Lowland League table with 15 points from nine games – five behind leaders and Capital rivals Edinburgh City, who have a game in hand.

Midfielder Craig Stevenson believes he and his team-mates need to string a run of results together in order to keep touch with the teams at the top.

“We need to go on a run of five or six wins,” he said. “The boys are still upbeat although we were a bit deflated after Wednesday – but we’ll pick ourselves up and get going again for Saturday.”

The man known to his team-mates as ‘Grinchy’ is of a similar opinion to his manager when it comes to tomorrow’s opponents. “I think they’ll be similar to [Edinburgh] Uni – they’ll be in our face and quick – they’re a young team as well. We’re expecting more of the same tomorrow.”

Stevenson made the switch to the North Edinburgh club from Berwick Rangers in the summer and revealed he is very much enjoying his football now.

“The boys have been brilliant,” he enthused. “Wednesday was probably my worst performance of the season, but I’m enjoying it and playing every week so I’m happy.”

The right-sided player is comfortable operating at right full-back or central midfield, and while he has been utilised in both positions this season, he admitted minutes on the pitch are his only priority.

“I’m just happy to be playing – I’ll play anywhere as long as I’m getting a game. I have been so I’m happy with that and hopefully it continues.”