Penicuik Athletic boss drops striker hint as goal drought and bad run continues

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Penicuik Athletic boss Stevie McLeish has hinted that he may have to shop around for a new striker to score more goals and get his team back on track after a third consecutive defeat.

The Midlothian side have scored just six goals in their last six games and Saturday’s shock 2-1 extra-time loss away to First Division Coldstream in the fourth round of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup follows defeats away to Bo’ness in the South Challenge Cup and Linlithgow Rose in the league. The manager admits profligacy in front of goal is a concern.

“We just can’t seem to score goals at the moment,” said McLeish. “There’s a pattern. We are not scoring goals. We are not taking the chances we make. The big things for me is that we need to find someone who is going to take those chances, whether he is inside the room or outside the room. It is pretty clear where the problem lies for the club. We need a goalscorer. It’s not an easy task, but that’s what we are looking to do.”

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A long injury list is not making things any easier and Greg Page will be suspended for this weekend’s game against Musselburgh Athletic after being sent off two minutes before the end of extra time against Coldstream.

“The boys are hurting big style, not about the result but the performances, how they are perceived to be playing and how they think of each other,” McLeish added. “There are issues there and they understand what’s expected of them. Next week’s going to be a really tough game as well. Right now we are in a really tight spot. Whoever it is was going to be a hard game anyway, but it is tougher because of who is missing.”

Matty Combe had given Penicuik an early lead before Jamie Whitehead equalised for the home team in the 70th minute. Coldstream had Miguel Frerie sent off before the end of normal time, but that didn’t stop Thomas Grey from firing them into the lead early in extra time with a stunning strike. Penicuik couldn’t find the breakthrough.

Frustrated by the performance, McLeish said: “We started quite well, took the lead, good goal. Then we sat off them. It seems to be a pattern. The boys have not been told to do that. But we sit off and sit off, then they score with a set piece. To be fair they should have scored earlier because Kyle Lieper made two absolutely tremendous saves in the first half from corners. There was one in the second half in the bottom corner before they scored as well.”

Musselburgh also bowed out of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup after a 3-1 home defeat by Lowland League visitors Edinburgh University, who join Coldstream in the last eight. Dunbar United reached the third round with a 2-1 win away to Lowland League Gretna thanks to a stunning James Redpath free-kick and a Liam Gregory penalty.