The curtain comes down on the 2022/23 East of Scotland Premier season this weekend, and while matters at the top and bottom of the table are already dealt with...
While the destination of the East of Scotland Premier title is confirmed with Linlithgow Rose already crowned champions, and three clubs looking ahead to next season in the First Division with the three relegations spots sewn up – the race for fourth spot is very much on.
Hi-Hi host Jeanfield Swifts on Saturday who sit fourth, two points ahead of them, with Dundonald Bluebell, Penicuik Athletic and Crossgates Primrose all in with a chance of a fourth-place finish. Fourth spot doesn’t secure qualification for any illustrious competition, but it would lay down a marker to measure progress against for next season.
“We are not coming to the end of any season, we’ve got to keep on going,” said Bonar. “We want to finish as high up the league as possible, and depending on results we could go up a couple of places, which would be brilliant considering this is our first season in this league with so many young players as well.
“It would be phenomenal if we were to finish fourth. Credit to the players, they have learnt every week.
“Jeanfield are the only team that have really given us a lesson this season, when they beat us 4-1 up there. I respect them a lot, they gave us a hard time in the first half; it was a learning curve for the players. We’ve got to try and right that wrong, we are more than up for Saturday.”
Promoted following their league triumph last season, Haddington and their homely Millfield Park have been a fantastic addition to the top flight. Consolidating their place for next season was always Bonar’s aim, so to be in with a chance of finishing fourth is beyond all expectations.
Bonar, who has signed up his entire squad for next season and hopes to supplement their existing youth with a couple of experienced heads, continued:
“There are not many teams that have come from the league below into the Premier and done as well as we have. If we can finish as high as possible this year, then try and get the right players in to try and help the squad, then hopefully we can go and compete again, then take it from there.
“We aren’t going to set any silly targets or goals; we just want to build a team. We have a lot of young boys coming through that I have been coaching since they were nine or ten year-old, so the future looks really good. In a year’s time we will have top players coming through at Haddington.
“I want to promote youth players. On Saturday against Broxburn we had two 16-year-olds playing, I thought, ‘Just throw them in and see how they get on’, and they did brilliant. I have just got to put up with the inconsistencies and give them games. Hopefully next season we can get a couple of experienced players in, but they’ve got to be the right type, they still need to be hungry.”