Kevin Milne does not want his Penicuik players to become complacent as they chase title
Kevin Milne has instructed his Penicuik players to approach tomorrow’s do-or-die East of Scotland Conference A clash against Musselburgh Athletic like it is a must-win.
A point would be enough to give the Cuikie the title and kill off the challenge posed by second place Hill of Beath, but boss Milne won’t be setting up his team to play for a draw against a Musselburgh outfit who’ll be determined to spoil any party as Penicuik bid to book their place in the East of Scotland three way play-off.
“We are preparing to go and win the game, even though we just require a point. I would much rather go into the game knowing you have to win it, rather than just getting a point,
“We’ve installed it into the boys already that under no circumstances are we going to try and just get a point out of this, we want to go and win the game.
“If I was Kevin McDonald [Musselburgh manager] I would be making sure my boys were doing everything to stop that from happening [Penicuik winning Conference A]. They’ll not want that to happen, so it just makes it a real high tension game which is good for the neutrals, but maybe not for the Penicuik supporters or myself.
“I think it’s more excitement than nerves at the moment; it’s the excitement of being in that position. Hill of Beath have done really, really well to maintain that pressure on us – they’ve pushed us all the way. I always knew it was going to be tight, I just didn’t realise it was going to be this tight.
“I would much rather be in our position than theirs because it is in our hands. If Hill of Beath hadn’t won on Tuesday, then we would have won the league, but at the same time there is a little bit of romance about winning it on your own ground and putting in a performance – getting that whole celebration afterwards.”
Should Penicuik win at least a point, they will enter into the play-offs where Bonnyrigg Rose, who claimed top spot in Conference B last month, lie in wait at New Dundas Park on Wednesday, May 1, with a home clash against the Conference C winners preceding that match.
Broxburn Athletic are in command of Conference C and travel to Stirling University tomorrow knowing three points will be enough for the title. Two points behind them are Linlithgow Rose, who have a greater goal difference, and will be looking to put the pressure on Brian McNaughton’s Broxburn as they visit Jeanfield Swifts.
Milne feels his players would have less pressure on them in the play-offs than most, if not all of their league matches this season.
“There is almost less pressure going into these games. I think a lot of people would’ve expected Penicuik, just because we finished third in the Super League last year, to go out and win this league comfortably, so we’ve had pressure on us to win every single game week in, week out which is more than if we were to play against Bonnyrigg in a play-off game.
“We don’t want to think about it too much at this stage because we’ve got a massive game against Musselburgh, but we play Bonnyrigg in a cup game a week on Monday and that might give us a little indication to see where we are.
“I think anything can happen on the day, Bonnyrigg are a big club and rightly so they will be favourites, but you can see a wee bit of vulnerability there after losing [3-1 to Bo’ness United] at the weekend.”
Musselburgh boss McDonald, who stepped up from assistant manager to take temporary charge when former manager Calvin Shand quit Olivebank in January, before making that move permanent last month, says his players are hungry for revenge.
“It doesn’t bother us whether Penicuik win it or Hill of Beath win it. From our point of view, we have two big cup games coming up, so you can’t just drop your form and then try and pick it up again.
“We are trying to keep our form going into the game against Hill of Beath [League Cup] and then we play the winners of Penicuik and Linlithgow in the King Cup.
“We’ll be going there for result, and they’ve turned us over twice so we’ll be looking for revenge for that. They are the only team that have beat us heavily all season, so we definitely need revenge for that.”