Spartans and Edinburgh City clash in a Capital derby in the Scottish Lowland Football League at Ainslie Park tonight, kick-off 7.45pm, with both clubs having recorded impressive victories at the weekend.
Spartans, the current champions, defeated last season’s runners-up Stirling University 2-1 while City travelled to face Vale of Leithen where they won 3-0.
Douglas Samuel, the Spartans manager, reflected on his side’s win against the students by saying: “The bonus was that Willie Bremner and Keith McLeod both scored because these two are our leading strikers although we have brought in others including Errol Douglas who can contribute in terms of goals.
“August brings with it six league games and it is important to get off to a good start without having to chase from early on. Every team will drop points this month so it’s a case of us taking as many as we can from these first six games. City won at Ainslie Park last season so they won’t come here with any fear, that is for sure.
“Gary Jardine has made excellent signings and brought in players who are hungry to do well and I think that he will have given all his players a boost with the quality of signings. We are expecting a really difficult game, but we are at home where we have a fantastic record in the Lowland League and we want to make sure that continues.”
Samuel welcomes back John Grant and Michael Bruce after suspension, although Willie Bremner is unavailable.
City boss Gary Jardine was delighted to get a win against Vale of Leithen on Saturday, noting: “That’s the first time we have won the opening game of the season for five years.”
Jardine and Samuel appear to be members of the ‘Mutual Admiration Society’ after the City manager said: “Our aim is to get close to Spartans who are the bench mark for all the teams in the Lowland League. I will be telling my players go out, relax and enjoy the game. There is confidence in our camp and Ainslie Park is a brilliant place to play football. All my players have to believe in themselves.”
Captain Douglas Gair returns to the squad after returning from holiday.
Elsewhere, Whitehill Welfare, who drew 2-2 with Dalbeattie Star, are looking to pick up maximum points at home against Edinburgh University, kick-off 7.00pm.
“Against Dalbeattie was just one of those days,” said manager Mike Lawson. “We retained possession well enough then gave the ball away.
“We now face Edinburgh and I do not have a good record against University sides. They will certainly fight and it will be a very difficult game because they beat us in the King Cup final on the last day of last season. They have pace and ability so it will be important that we keep our composure and match them for commitment and effort.
“I will have to make a couple of enforced changes.”
Meanwhile, Preston Athletic, who lost 1-0 to Gala Fairydean Rovers on Saturday, travel to meet a much-improved Selkirk team who have former Hibs and Scotland striker Garry O’Connor in their line-up.