Kevin Milne: Penicuik will give their all in the play-offs
Penicuik Athletic co-manager Kevin Milne says his men are determined to get into the Lowland League following a late Scott McCrory-Irving goal against Musselburgh at home in their 1-1 draw.
“We are 100 per-cent going in to the play-offs to try and get out of this league,” he said.
“We’ll prepare all the boys for this game on Saturday against Broxburn – before that we have Bonnyrigg tonight [cup match], so we’ll have to manage the squad a wee bit for that. In terms of the play-offs we are going in to try and beat both Broxburn and Bonnyrigg.
“I don’t think there are going to be any underdogs in any of the games. Bonnyrigg are probably going to be favourites with the size of the club that they are, but I think ourselves and Broxburn have to fancy our chances as well. We’ve played well against good teams, and again it’s one-off games, it’s two cup finals for all three teams.
“You have to go in with that mentality that it’s do or die.”
Penicuik Athletic midfielder Scott McCrory-Irving revealed his relief after his late equaliser secured top spot in East of Scotland Conference A and their place in the play-offs.
The Cuikie didn’t make it easy for themselves as visitors Musselburgh – who were simply playing for pride having shipped nine goals without reply in the two previous meetings with their hosts this season – found the net first to heap even more pressure on the nervy home side.
“It was massive relief more than euphoria when it went in – it was a sigh of relief and then try to get through the next ten minutes,” said McCrory-Irving. “I think you could see both teams were pretty cagey; there wasn’t much football played at all. The longer it was going on, the longer there was a chance they could nick a goal, so in a way it was maybe a good thing they got the first goal because it gave us a bit of a wake-up call.
“We showed a lot of dig, which I think we have done all season, when we’ve been in situations like that so it is just good to get the rewards for it.
“I just absolutely scalffed it into the corner and I’m just glad it went in. It just went through a bunch of bodies and the goalie somehow never got to it.”
Penicuik host Conference C winners Broxburn Athletic in the first of the round-robin matches on Saturday, before taking on Conference B representatives Bonnyrigg Rose at New Dundas Park on Wednesday, May 1.
Rose will go in to the three-way play-off as favourites, but McCrory-Irving is happy to be underdogs, as he continued: “Everything is a free hit now and we can go into the play-offs with nothing to lose. We are just going to give it our best shot basically and see how far we can get. It would be brilliant to get into the Lowland League.
“Bonnyrigg and Broxburn are two very good teams so it is going to be tough. You are maybe going to see some better from us at this stage of the season, just because we will have that pressure off us.”
After an opening half in which Musselburgh had the better opportunities in front of goal, the Olivebak men took the lead on 57 minutes after a terrific flowing move carved open the home defence, with Jackie Myles finding into the net from the edge of the box after Nathan Evans had passed the ball to him.
The goal sparked Penicuik into action, and after Burgh defender Liam Reid saw red for a second bookable offence, the hosts drew level on 77 minutes, with McCrory-Irving keeping his cool to prod the ball into the net – the ball taking an age to roll over the line.
Penicuik had chances to win, with Burgh goalkeeper Ally Adams making a terrific save to deny Wayne McIntosh after he was played in by strike partner Aaron Somerville.
Penicuik Athletic: Watt, Stevenson, Baptie, Young, Page, Connolly, Caddow (Sampson), Jones, McIntosh, McCrory-Irving, Ponton (Somerville).
Musselburgh Athletic: Adams, Reid, Whyte, Myles, McNaughton, Thomson, King, Callaghan, Deland, Gregory (Gillan), Evans.