Lowland League: Spartans keeper relishing scrap for title
SPARTANS goalkeeper Andrew Stobie is convinced this season's Lowland League title race will go right down to the wire.
The Ainslie Park side currently occupy third spot in the league table, five points behind reigning champions East Kilbride with leaders BSC Glasgow a further three points better off.
However, Dougie Samuel’s men do have games in hand over both of these sides which could swing things in the Capital outfit’s favour.
Stobie, who made the move from city rivals Edinburgh City in the summer, is no stranger to winning league titles having been a mainstay of the City squad that earned promotion to Ladbrokes League 2 in May 2016.
The Meadowbank side were head and shoulders above the rest that year but Stobie insists that gap no longer exists.
“We’re really happy with where we are positioned, tucked right in amongst the pack so we’re pleased heading into a big month of games,” the 26-year-old said ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Selkirk.
“I really think it will go right down to the last game of the season. I don’t think you will see any side pull away at the top because I think teams from the top all the way down to the bottom will take points off each other.
“You’ve seen that with Hawick recently. They were on a horrendous run and were getting beaten comfortably but have now been losing by the odd goal to the likes of East Kilbride. I haven’t got a crystal ball but that’s just my gut feeling.
“When I won the league with Edinburgh City we were streets ahead of the others – even by Christmas. So it’s different this year where we have a right battle on our hands because there are three or four teams who could win it, maybe more.”
Stobie had to play second fiddle to Blair Carswell when he arrived at the club in July but quickly established himself at Samuel’s No.1.
“I’m happy to be playing but I’m also just happy to be part of a really good group of boys,” he said. “I’m thoroughly enjoying it. The relationship I have with Blair is excellent and we’ve actually become really good friends. I’m loving traning with Elli [Steven Ellison goalkeeping coach] but I’m old enough and wise enough to know that things can change very quickly in football. That said, I’ve been happy with my performances so far this season so long may it continue.”
Selkirk make the trip from the Borders in confident fashion and will be looking to put a spanner in the works of Spartans’ end-of-season aspirations. The Yarrow Park side sit fourth and could move to within a point of the Capital club should they prevail this weekend.
“We’re expecting a very tough game against Selkirk,” Stobie said. “I don’t think many teams will keep clean sheets against them as they’re very attacking. Selkirk have really improved and are sitting just below us so that tells us everything we need to know.
“They’ve got some really good individual players. Phil Addison up front is definitely one to watch as I really rate him and he is always dangerous in and around the box.
“I know it’s a cliche but it really is just about taking it one game at a time. I think you can get too caught up on how your rivals are doing as you end up losing sight of your own objectives. But we’re only human and we do look at the league table and see what’s being said on social media.”
Entry is free at Ainslie Park tomorrow (kick-off 3pm) for supporters who ‘donate on the gate’. Items including food and toiletries will be donated to the local foodbank projects.
Elsewhere, Dorian Ogunro takes his Edinburgh University side to play East Kilbride at K-Park.
Civil Service Strollers visit the Falkirk Stadium where hosts Stirling University await and Whitehill Welfare are in action against Edusport Academy at Galabank.