Andy Essler is just loving life at Neilston – and admits he regrets not signing for them years ago.

And that's something coming from the winger whose dazzling skills first came to prominence with Rob Roy before he starred for Larkhall Thistle, Maryhill, Pollok and Irvine Meadow as well as Senior playing stints with Stranraer and Ayr United.

Now aged 37, his sights are firmly set on helping the Farmers Boys back on the road to their own former glory days by winning promotion from the Central First Division this season.

That aim appeared to be a very distant one when the Brig O'Lea side gleaned only eight points from their opening eight league matches.

However, Andy and his team-mates have bounced back, producing a five-game unbeaten run that has elevated Neilston up to third spot in the table.

And their latest victory – last weekend's crucial 3-1 defeat of second-placed St Anthony's – has set the scene nicely for Greenock coming to town on Saturday.

Essler said: "It's not a boast to say I had a number of clubs chasing me during the close season, including a couple from the Super Premier Division.

"But when I came along for talks here, the manager Robert Fox totally sold the place to me with his sheer enthusiasm and desire for the club to do well.

"People might have thought it was a step down, but I have never had occasion to think it was the wrong move.

"It's been nothing short of a delight to play here and I just wish the opportunity to play for Neilston had cropped up earlier in my career.

"We have a really good young team along with older heads like myself, Martin Hughes, James Canning and James Lennox. There are no egos and everyone is pulling together.

"Our horrible start to the season has left us playing catch-up, but now that we're at the right end of the table, I can see us emerging as one of the main challengers to get promoted.

"Right now I wouldn't talk up our chances any more than that but, if we can just keep this unbeaten run going for a little while, then who knows what might happen?

"This division has a lot of decent footballing sides like Larkhall, St Anthony's, Lesmahagow, Carluke Rovers and, of course, Greenock, but we need not fear going up against any of them."

Essler had a spell in the amateur ranks with Giffnock North and Drumchapel United after leaving Pollok.

And the veteran rates ex-Drum team-mate Adam Nascanci as a star in the making for Neilston along with Darren Christie, Kieran McDade and Bob Campbell.

He added: "If this team can stick together then the future is looking very good for Neilston.

"The team spirit is as good as any I've ever experienced – as shown by last Saturday's win over St Anthony's when myself and a few of the Glasgow-based players all travelled back to Neilston for a celebratory pint with our team-mates.

"Foxy said this togetherness would stand us in good stead and I just wish he had stayed around rather than resigning when results were not going our way.

"His assistants Andy Whiteford and Davie Wilson have stepped into the breach and they communicate very well in the dressing room.

"They have got the club moving in an upward direction without making wholesale changes.

"Taking on Greenock is a massive test as they looked an organised side when they beat us 2-1 at their place earlier in the season.

"However, we are much improved from then and hopefully we can show it on Saturday."

On the transfer front, East Stirlingshire have snapped up Whitletts Vics stopper Raymond Buchanan, who had been on Irvine Meadow's radar.