Robbie Horn: Bonnyrigg Rose can handle play-off pressure against Penicuik
Bonnyrigg Rose boss Robbie Horn has backed his players to handle the pressure in what is a must-win encounter for the hosts when they take on Penicuik Athletic tonight in the East of Scotland League play-offs.
Penicuik go into tonight’s match at New Dundas Park (kick-off 6.45) knowing victory would render the third play-off match between Broxburn Athletic and Bonnyrigg on Saturday irrelevant after they took all three points in the first of the round-robin matches against the West Lothian side last Saturday.
Horn previously hit out at the schedule for the matches, given his side didn’t take part at the weekend, but his side don’t have time to worry about such off-field matters as they look to keep their dream of making next season’s Lowland League alive.
Conference B winners Bonnyrigg have been sitting patiently since March to find out who they would face from the other two Conferences having wrapped up their league so quickly.
“Penicuik are in the driving seat after winning on Saturday but it’s up to us to go out and get the result we need,” said Horn.
“It’s done now, there is nothing we can do about it; the format has been put in front of us and we just have to deal with it. The frustrating thing for us is that we never played on Saturday and the other two managed to get a game – because you would like to be the team that is being chased. At the end of the day, we just have to go out and get a result tonight and then it’s in our hands.
“The players have played in big games over the last few years, so we are used to it [handling pressure]. It’s about going out to win games of football and that’s the way we always have been at this club. It’s up to us to set the tone; we are the team that need to go and win.
“We’ve had them watched and then we played them last Monday. They are a good side; all three teams are good sides – you don’t win your conference if you are not a good side. There are three teams all going at it and winner takes all really, that’s the problem.”
Penicuik could effectively be crowned East of Scotland champions should they draw tonight and win the resultant penalty shoot-out, which has added an entirely separate dimension to the play-off matches. The shoot-out winners are awarded an extra point.
Horn doesn’t expect their visitors to arrive in Bonnyrigg with that mentality, however, who like their opponents are still unaware as to whether their application for an SFA licence will be granted.
He continued: “I don’t think so [Penicuik to come and set up for a draw], because two Saturdays ago they played against Musselburgh and knew a point would be enough but they tried to go and win the game. I would think they will have that mentality about them again, and come here to try to win – that’s what you want, to be honest.
“We are just the same as everybody else, we are still in the dark as to what is happening, which is just frustrating, not just for us, but for Penicuik, Broxburn and all the other teams that have applied for their licence as well.
“We just have to sit and wait and see. We could win [the play-offs] and think we have won promotion, but not get a licence, and then we’ll be snookered. I hope whoever wins the play-offs gets their licence and they are allowed to go and play in the Lowland League. That’s why the pyramid system was put in place – for teams to try and find their level.”
Penicuik co-manager Kevin Milne says all the pressure is off his side after Saturday’s match.
“The pressure is off. It’s in our hands,” said Milne. “The boys are in a good place. We had the pressure of the league run-in, which was tough. Now that pressure is off, I think we can go and be who we are. The pitch at Bonnyrigg will suit us perfectly and there’s no reason why we can’t go on and take the three points.
“I’m looking forward to it. It should be a good game – it will be a great game for the spectators, I can guarantee that.”