Peasy stars on derby alert

Arguably the Super Premier Division game of the day on Saturday has table-toppers Petershill awaiting the visit of Ashfield in a Glasgow derby they must win.

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Petershill's management team of Scott Smith, on the left, and Willie Patterson
Petershill's management team of Scott Smith, on the left, and Willie Patterson

That's the opinion of co- gaffer Scott Smith, who insists the head-to-head title fight between the Springburn outfit and unbeaten second-placed Auchinleck Talbot is shaping up as a battle of minds.

Suffering a horror slip-up last weekend in losing only their second league match of the season through a 1-0 defeat at the hands of basement battlers Glenafton has piled pressure on the Peasy to bounce back on the rails against their neighbours.

But the raising of stakes has both Smith and dugout partner Willie Patterson urging their players to dig deep and avoid a repeat of the run-in capitulation that thwarted their dreams of title glory last season.

"We are in near enough the same situation as last February when our noses were in front with seven fixtures left to play," Smith said. "But 10 points were yielded up through five drawn games, inclusive of Ashfield holding us twice, and that more or less handed the title on a plate to Irvine Meadow.

"Nobody at this club wants history to repeat itself, so the aim is to win all our remaining fixtures starting with Saturday's game.

"Nobody needs to tell us it's an extremely tall order in this highly-competitive league, but we simply cannot set our sights lower given the terrific consistency shown by Auchinleck. They have shown the mental strength to grind out results when not firing on all cylinders and we have to do the same."

The good news for Petershill supporters is that their team's injury woes have all but cleared after lining up at Loch Park with a trialist left-back in their starting XI as well as four juveniles listed as substitutes.

Smith added: "Players were going down like flies in the lead-up to the game and we were forced into asking Ryan Jordan to play even though he had been laid up all week with a severe bout of gastro-enteritis.

"We'll be a lot stronger for facing Ashfield with Stewart Maxwell, Richie Burke and Stephen McGladrigan back in the ranks and hopefully their return will spark an improvement performance-wise."

Meanwhile, Auchinleck will be feeling reasonably confident of picking up another three points away to a Clydebank side they hammered 5-1 when the teams met back in October. And there's a tense basement battle in prospect at Dunterlie where fifth from bottom Arthurlie –who placed goalkeeper Graeme Shepherd on the open- to-transfer list in midweek – host the visit of one point and two places worse off Irvine Meadow.

Elsewhere, on the transfer front, Rutherglen Glencairn have completed the protracted deal to sign Pollok striker Jamie Docherty, even though his cup-tied status will keep him out of Saturday's crunch Emirates Cup fifth-round clash at home to Pumpherston.

One-time Pollok and Arthurlie midfielder Bryan Smith has moved to Neilston from Cambuslang Rangers, while a surprise development at Thorniewood United has seen experienced goalkeeper Jon Connolly gain free-agent status after buying out his own transfer.

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