Whitehill Welfare’s Wayne McIntosh has issued a stern warning to his team-mates ahead of their Image Printers East of Scotland Qualifying Cup third-round tie with Preston Athletic at the Pennypit tomorrow.
The 28-year-old striker, who has 20 goals to his name so far in this season’s inaugural Lowland League, says it would be a travesty if the reigning East of Scotland champions were to finish the campaign without a trophy to add to the cabinet.
Off the pace in the chase for league honours and eliminated from the Lowland League Cup’s group stages despite last weekend’s 4-0 victory over Edinburgh City, tomorrow’s match in East Lothian is the Midlothian side’s opportunity to make amends and seal a semi-final spot in what has largely been a disappointing campaign by the club’s own standards.
“It’s a must, to be honest,” McIntosh said when asked just how important it was that the Rosewell club progress come 4.45pm tomorrow. “We’re a big club and the people involved at Whitehill expect big things from us. To be fair, all the boys here are a good bunch and we are a good side. It’s just been one or two things, like we’ve never been able to play with the same back four, our goalkeeper Ryan McGurk left us, but there has been a lot of chopping and changing.
“This year we’ve leaked a lot of goals whereas last year we had a lot of shut-outs. It really just comes down to consistency – we’ve been unfortunate with injuries and suspensions and boys going on holiday so we’ve never really got going.”
Whitehill’s previous visit to the Pennypit delivered one of the most remarkable victories this season when the visitors inflicted a 9-2 league thrashing on the hosts – McIntosh’s strike partner Aaron Somerville netting a hat-trick. However, McIntosh doesn’t expect such an easy ride of it on this occasion.
“I actually never scored in our previous match with them, but I did have a hand in a lot of the goals – four I think. I know Bingo (David Bingham) really well from my time at Tynecastle. He is one of the best coaches I’ve played under so he will have them well fired up this time round.
“He’ll certainly not want the same display as last time, but we just need to focus on what we do best and kick on from our win from last Saturday. It’s a chance to get to the semi-finals after all.”
On a personal note, McIntosh is targeting passing a milestone of his own by eclipsing the 24 goals he scored in last year’s title winning campaign.
“I’ve got 20 already so I’m happy with that total considering the way the season has gone and I have been in-and-out of the side,” he said. “It’s been a strange one, but as a striker you want to score as many as you can and hopefully I can add a few more.”
While manager Mickey Lawson has the luxury of a full squad at his disposal, his opposing number Bingham has doubts over full-back Dale O’Hara and midfielder Michael Osborne. However, both Ryan Moore and Ricky Ramsay are expected to at least make the match-day squad.
Spartans, meanwhile, welcome Vale of Leithen to Ainslie Park fresh from their 2-1 triumph over Stirling University six days ago as they bid to keep their treble aspirations intact.
Dougie Samuel, who has Donal Henretty available again, is wary of the threat Vale pose after their previous encounter in August finished in a hard-fought 1-1 draw.
“Vale represent another tough test,” Samuel explained. “They will have no fear about playing away from home. However, our home form has been good this season. We will focus on our own game and hope that we can reach the last four of a cup we’d love to win.”