Tom Steven will lead his Tynecastle team into action for the first time since taking over as manager only two weeks ago when they travel across the Capital to meet Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale at Saughton Enclosure in a Central Taxis Premier Division encounter.
Steven and his younger brother Shaun replaced Murray Balloch and David Bingham, who left Tynecastle by mutual consent after a 9-0 hammering from Spartans. The Tynecastle chairman, Douglas Dalgleish, was quick to appoint the experienced brothers who guided Edinburgh City to the Premier Division championship in season 2005-2006.
Tynecastle’s game against Selkirk at Fernieside Recreation Grounds was postponed last Saturday because the playing surface had been “vandalised” by some unofficial golfers, who dug huge divots all over the park. “It would appear that as it was the school holidays some people had been using the football pitch as a golf course,” said Steven.
“The match referee deemed that the pitch was in a dangerous state and therefore unplayable. To be honest I was not too disappointed because it gave Shaun and me another week to work with our players.”
Steven has already strengthened his squad with the addition of Jordan Caddow, Kevin Morrison and Jamie Speed, all of who played with Steven when he was boss of Edinburgh City.
“I regard them all as really good players who add a lot of experience to our squad. We have a fairly young squad, apart from Brian Foster, and they certainly seemed to need a bit of experience about them to help them develop. I haven’t seen my players in real competitive action yet but I am led to believe that if they fell behind they did not have the resolve to pull themselves up and out.
“There was a large turnaround of players at Tynecastle during the summer when they lost almost an entire team including very experienced and capable players like Wayne McIntosh and Wayne Sproule.
“We are still working on bringing in more players although I have to say that I have been impressed with the level of ability within the squad. I honestly find it hard to believe that Tynecastle have played five league games and won only one.
“There is no reason why we should not be competing towards the top end of the table. It may be the players’ level of fitness and Shaun already has them doing some more physical and running work. We need to also get them into a formation which they can play well enough to win games. It has been a poor start for Tynecastle and we need to turn things around quickly.”
Lothian Thistle, were watched by Steven last Saturday and he added: “Although Stirling University beat them 2-0, for the whole second half Lothian were the better team. Lothian had more of the play. I don’t think that there is a lot of difference between the teams in this league.” Thistle manager, Mark Lamb, was disappointed to lose 2-0 to Stirling University and explained: “We gave away an indirect free-kick in our six-yard box in the first minute and then lost a goal in the second minute of stoppage time.
“You could say that for 90 minutes it was an even game although I thought that it was a below-par performance from us.
“Tomorrow we have to dust ourselves down and get our heads up. Tynecastle have a brand new management team which will see Tynecastle well organised with all of their players out to impress. I cannot work out why they have not won more games because they genuinely have some very good players.”
Richie Wilkes returns after suspension although Mark Kelly is still out and Lamb added: “We might make some changes.”
The game kicks-off at Saughton Enclosure at 2.30pm with admission prices, adults £4.00 and concessions £2.00.