Three games to define season for Penicuik

Scott Montgomery. Picture: Jon Savage
Scott Montgomery. Picture: Jon Savage
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Penicuik Athletic assistant manager Scott Montgomery believes their next three Super League fixtures will define his team’s season.

The battle of the champions takes place at Penicuik Park tomorrow afternoon, when last season’s Premier League winners host reigning Super League title holders Bo’ness United. Penicuik then make the short journey to second-placed Newtongrange Star next weekend, before taking on top-of-the-table Kelty Hearts in Fife the following Saturday. Montgomery, who revealed their aim is to aim for the league title until it is no longer possible, insists the run of matches will make or break their season.

“It is three games that are really going to define our season, I think,” said the 37-year-old. “Depending on how things go, it could really swing one way or another. We are aiming to win the league and that will be our aspiration as long as it is mathematically possible. It’s going to be very difficult to do that. We are not kidding ourselves on – we don’t expect to win the league, but we are certainly expecting to finish in the top four or five. The next three games may well go a long way in defining if that’s possible.

“It maybe adds a wee bit more pressure tomorrow with the fact that Bo’ness is the only home game out of the three. Our home record wasn’t great at the beginning of the season, but recently we’ve had a better run and we are hoping that will stand us in good stead.”

Penicuik have already proved that they can compete with the big boys in their first ever season in the Super League.

The Midlothian men bounced back from an opening-day defeat by Newtongrange at home, to take all three points away at Linlithgow Rose – their first win at Prestonfield since 1966.

Towards the end of August they also recorded a 2-2 draw at the Newtown Park, home of tomorrow’s opponents.

Penicuik have not played since a 0-0 draw away to Sauchie on December, with their last two scheduled fixtures called off due to the weather.

However, Montgomery is adamant they won’t be caught cold by Bo’ness tomorrow. The visitors are in form with three straight victories, but the Penicuik assistant boss feels his side are in a “good position”, despite having gone two Saturday’s in a row without a match.

He said: “We were expecting the game to go ahead last week. It was annoying because most teams around us picked up points. We’ve dropped down two places in the league since we last played, so it’s hurt us a wee bit. We’ve had decent training sessions, so we still feel we are in a good position going into the match.”

Sitting fifth in the table, just a point off third place at the tail end of December, would have surprised many. Montgomery, however, along with manager Craig Meikle, knew they would be competitive this season. Their only problem was convincing their players they could do it. “We played some Super League teams in the cups last season and we competed well, so we were confident we would do fine,” said Montgomery. “It seems to have been proven to be correct based on what we’ve done so far.

“We had a wee bit of a ropey start, but we kind of came through that and we’ve grown in confidence as a squad.

“There was maybe a wee bit of surprise when we went to Linlithgow and beat them and drew away at Bo’ness. We have a bit more belief that it is something that we can achieve, rather than it being such a shock. I don’t think it would be such a shock now to the players if we picked up points against the top teams in the league.”

Midfielder Ryan Gay is doubtful with a knee injury, while Bo’ness winger Darren Gribben is in line for a start after making his return from injury off the bench against Musselburgh last weekend.