Tranent Juniors player-boss Darren Smith didn’t expect to be leading the Foresters Park men into the second half of the Premier League season.
Midfielder Smith and former assistant manager Kenny Rafferty assumed caretaker duties following Gary Small’s shock resignation in November.
They didn’t envisage they would be in charge for long after the club invited applications for the post, but after an unbeaten three-game run they were appointed before Christmas on an interim basis for the foreseeable future.
Now 36-year-old Smith has his sights set on pushing Tranent up the table, although he admits challenging for a promotion place would be a big ask.
“I’ve been playing still so the emphasis has been on Raff making decisions on the sidelines, and whatever he sees during the game I trust him 100 per cent,” said Smith.
“We didn’t expect it to be the case because they were advertising for applications for it, but then they asked us to continue as they didn’t want to rush into a decision. We were obviously happy to do that.
“We’ll continue taking things until we are told otherwise. It’s important we get the club to get a bit of stability about it because there’s been a lot going on and off the park. It’s not been the best of seasons, but the boys just want to concentrate on playing football for once.”
Sixth-place Tranent host Haddington Athletic in an East Lothian derby tomorrow. When the sides last met at Millfield earlier in the season Brian Johnston’s men ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.
Smith, however, believes that with a new-found mental toughness about them, Tranent have become harder to beat.
“They beat us fair and square last time, we weren’t up for it at all. They were the best team on that night, there’s no question about it, but it’s who turns up on the day and shows a willingness to win.
“There seems to be a better mentality about the place. Before, when we were going behind in games everyone was falling out and there was a negative attitude and we never seemed to recover from it. Against Downfield we came from behind twice and before we would’ve lost that game.
“It’s a big ask [to challenge for promotion] in terms of the start to the season we had. Realistically now we’re looking to sustain ourselves in the league.”
Winger Stephen Manson goes straight into the Tranent squad having re-joined the club from Tynecastle this week.