Despite targeting a top-half finish at the turn of the year, Whitehill Welfare boss Gary Small has admitted his side now have a fight on their hands to stay in the Lowland League.
A host of postponements, coupled with four straight defeats, has left the Roswell club in trouble ahead of tomorrow’s visit of title-chasing Spartans.
The recent upturn in fortunes of bottom club Hawick Royal Albert won’t be enough to save the Borders club from relegation, but Small insists his players must start grinding out wins because there is the threat of demotion for the side that finishes 15th – currently Vale of Leithen.
That’s easier said than done for the Rosewell outfit who are set to meet the league’s top four teams over the next three weeks. Whitehill are 12th but are nine points better off than Vale who, Small insists, have the more favourable run-in.
“There’s no two ways about it we’ve got a really tough few weeks coming up,” Small said. “We’ve got seven league games still to play and out of those games we’ve got the top five to play. As far as I’m concerned it’s irrelevant who we play as we need to go and pick up some points.
“There’s nothing you can do about the weather but we’ve got to face all the top teams back-to-back now. We’re not safe from that second-bottom place make no mistake about it and because of the cancellations it’s worked against us. Am I confident of us being safe? No, I’m not. We need to start picking up points fast. I thought at the start of the season you’d need 30 points to guarantee safety but now I’m not so sure.
“I think we could have a big say in who wins the league but I don’t really care to be honest. It’s all about what Whitehill do and us getting points. The league title will take care of itself and good luck to whoever does win it. We haven’t beaten a team in the top five yet but I believe we are more than capable of doing it.”
Given Whitehill are just eight points adrift of Cumbernauld Colts in sixth underlines the competitiveness of the league. However, Small has been frustrated by his side’s inability to go toe-to-toe with the big guns this year.
“We haven’t beaten anyone in the top five and that has to change,” Small explained. “If you can win your games in hand then you can shoot right up the table. However, with the fixtures we have, you can also find you lose all of them.
“I’m not naive enough to know that you aren’t safe until it’s mathematically impossible. But we’re only eight points off sixth place and I think for the first time in quite a while I might have my strongest squad available tomorrow. Our last game against Dalbeattie Star I had to play some of the fringe players, three under-20s and a trialist. We just don’t have the resources if you take out our big players to go to places like that and win.
“We know how good a team Spartans are and the form that they are in but we have to try and match them. We have to stick to our own agenda and I shouldn’t have to fire the players up for this one.”
With East Kilbride idle this weekend, Dougie Samuel’s men know that a win at Ferguson Park will see them move level on points with their South Lanarkshire rivals with a game in hand.
Meanwhile, Civil Service Strollers visit Alloa’s Indodrill Stadium where hosts BSC Glasgow are their opponents.