Jack Beesley knows how hard his Spartans team-mates have fought to gain control of their own destiny in Group B of the Lowland League Cup.
Victory tomorrow over rivals Whitehill Welfare at Ferguson Park will see the Ainslie Park side leapfrog nearest challengers Stirling University and ensure automatic qualification to the semi-finals.
Their passage to the penultimate stage of the competition was in jeopardy just six weeks ago until the prolific Keith McLeod intervened and stole the show at Stirling with a wonderful winner five minutes from time to snatch all three points, a result that, ultimately, put them in the driving seat in pursuit of top spot.
Midfielder Beesley, who has provided more than a reasonable return of goals and assists to the side this year, underlined the necessity of taking all three points this weekend.
He said: “It’s massively important. Obviously for ourselves as a team, we won just the one trophy last year so any competition we can progress as far as possible is good. In terms of playing Whitehill, with the form they are in at the moment, it will arguably be our hardest game of the season so far.
“Away at their place is notoriously tough, so I think it will be a measure of how we’re doing if we are to get a good result.
“A couple of things have went in our favour in this cup, so we’re pleased to be in the position that we can control what happens. We must ensure we take advantage of that.”
The 27-year-old former Edinburgh University player is now in his fourth season with the Lowland League leaders, recruited to the club by tomorrow’s opposing manager Mickey Lawson, who led Spartans for more than ten years before returning to Whitehill in 2012.
But Beesley pinpoints an ageing rivalry that exists between the clubs as all that is required to provide the impetus of ensuring he is on the winning side.
“I am sure they will,” he said when asked if Whitehill will want to stop them in their tracks. “I think any game between Spartans and Whitehill, it doesn’t matter if one team is top and the other is bottom, you just want to beat them every single time and I’m sure they will feel the same.
“Regardless of who is in charge or who’s playing, I think for the last couple of decades there’s always been that wee bit added to the fixture. We’re big rivals and always will be.”
Beesley has been a mainstay in the Spartans starting XI this season, just the odd occasion he has found himself to be relegated to the substitutes’ bench. He does stress, however, manager Dougie Samuel is one figure who does favour refreshing the squad when the opportunity to do so arises.
He added: “I think that is a reflection of how much depth we have in the squad. For me personally, Dougie is a fair guy when it comes to who’s getting minutes on the pitch. But I think, given my current form, I’m happy to have a wee run in the team.
“Winning every competition is always going to be difficult. It’s only March and we’re playing in four of five different cups and obviously going for the league as well, so it’s going to be an interesting end to the season. I know it’s the old cliché, but we really are just taking one game at a time.”
Spartans travel to Rosewell without long-term injury victims Robbie Ross and Jack Beacher, while Ally MacKinnon and Jack Blaikie have also been ruled out.
The hosts will still be without striker Aaron Somerville, who missed last week’s victory over Stirling, but Lawson is keeping his cards close to his chest regarding the identity of a further two or three who will also not make the game.
Edinburgh City, meanwhile, travel to Stirling on league duty aiming to consolidate on their 4-1 triumph over Preston Athletic last weekend, while Preston travel to Vale of Leithen for the return match of their Lowland League Group A fixture.