Whitehill Welfare aim to keep up fine run

Andrew Kidd is set to sign a new deal. Pic: Toby Wiliams
Andrew Kidd is set to sign a new deal. Pic: Toby Wiliams
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Whitehill Welfare, the reigning East of Scotland champions, have posted nine consecutive victories and remain unbeaten in 2014.

The Rosewell club have not been defeated since a 3-2 loss to Spartans in the Lowland League Cup group stages towards the end of December last year.

Occupying fifth place in the table and with the Image Printers East of Scotland Qualifying Cup already sitting in the trophy cabinet, there are reasons to be cheerful around Ferguson Park as the inaugural Lowland League enters its final month of the campaign. Had Mickey Lawson’s men been firing on all cylinders in the early part of this season then it is conceivable to assume Whitehill would currently be embroiled with both Spartans and Stirling University in a battle for league honours.

Finishing runners-up, however, is a realistic target, but Lawson disclosed that measures are already being put in place to ensure they are ready to hit the ground running come August.

“There are lots of reasons we haven’t done as well as we should have,” Lawson said. “But I’m trying to stay clear of all that talk, so it’s just a fact of life.

“I’m trying to turn it on its head and have been saying if we can keep this group of players together then next year is the big year. We’ve started re-signing players already and want to have most of them on contract before the end of the season. We re-signed John Hall, Darren McGlashan, Bryan Young and Stuart McLaughlin on Tuesday night and both Andrew and Willie Kidd have indicated they are going to sign as well.

“I don’t want anybody here that doesn’t want to be here and I know a lot of them think we’ve got unfinished business here.”

Preston Athletic are the visitors tomorrow to Midlothian and despite scoring 15 goals in their previous two victories against David Bingham’s side earlier in the season, Lawson isn’t expecting an easy ride this time round.

“We score goals against Preston but they also score goals against us. They’ve beaten Spartans this year so we know we’ll have to be at our best. We played really well at Forthbank last weekend and deserved the victory. We’re looking forward to the game and we just want to keep this run going.”

Opponents Preston, meanwhile, will be hoping to find some form ahead of their Lowland League Cup semi-final with Dalbeattie Star next Saturday, a fixture Bingham is keen to put on the backburner for the time being.

He said: “There is a carrot for my players for the following week though as we’ve got the cup semi-final the following week down at Dalbeattie.

“There will be a number of places up for grabs but I hope the players don’t have one eye on that already because at the end of the day, the next game is the most important one and that is Whitehill tomorrow.

“They’re on such a good run at the moment so their confidence is high. It will be a test but it will be a test of the character for my team and an opportunity to show that they can compete. They’ve beaten Spartans and Stirling recently so we know they’ll be right up for this. They haven’t been beaten this year but it’s 11 v 11 so, as long as we don’t have any regrets at the end of the match then I’ll be happy.

“What I can’t take is when players come up short in terms of effort and you’re left scratching your head a bit. There’s no better feeling than going into a semi-final coming off the back of a positive result.”

Elsewhere, league leaders Spartans travel to Galashiels to take on a rejuvenated Gala Fairydean Rovers at Netherdale.

The Ainslie Park club are now within touching distance of being crowned league champions with just four league matches remaining. Second-placed Stirling are currently nine points adrift.