Rookie gaffers Crilly and Swift in focus now as Kilbirnie click

Co-bosses Steven Swift and Mark Crilly have pinpointed December as a "moment of truth" for their Kilbirnie Ladeside players.

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Mark Crilly and Steven Swift reckon December will be a crucial month for Kilbirnie
Mark Crilly and Steven Swift reckon December will be a crucial month for Kilbirnie

The fledgling management duo endured a miserable baptism from watching their side bag just seven points from a possible 21 during a dismal start to their Stagecoach Super First Division campaign.

And a shock Emirates Junior Cup defeat at the hands of Dundee Violet had even the most diehard Valefield punters voicing doubts as to whether the Blasties' season could be salvaged.

However, both men were convinced that a turnaround could be achieved.

And now their faith is showing signs of being rewarded with Kilbirnie seeking to stretch their unbeaten run to five matches when hosting league bottom markers Whitletts Vics on Saturday.

Swifty said: "Getting this club back into the Super Premier is not a bigger or more difficult job than Mark and I envisaged it would be.

"We set our stall out by signing a number of top Junior names, but nothing prepared us for the spate of injuries that has left us without those same players most weeks.

"Only now are we beginning to get the guys back in harness and it's no coincidence that our results have picked up around the same time.

"But nobody is getting carried away. Mark and I know from our time at Irvine Meadow that stringing a few victories together in the run-up to the New Year could go a long way towards Kilbirnie getting into the mix."

Dugout partner Crilly reckons the Blasties' step-up ambitions might well hinge on keeping midfielder David McGeown injury-free.

He said: "Every top side has a player whose ability to make things happen can be the difference between winning and losing.

"The main man for us is most definitely David. Kris Robertson, Kevin McDonald and Shaun Dillon have returned after injury to noticeably stiffen us defensively, but David has made the biggest difference of all, so it's vital we wrap him in cotton wool whenever the opportunity arises."

Victory in their Valefield encounter will almost certainly see Kilbirnie move up from eighth spot in the table, particularly with many of the teams above them in the standings locking horns with each other.

Something has to give in the Blair Park contest between second top Hurlford United and sixth-placed Rutherglen Glencairn, which is the decisive third meeting of the clubs this season given they have both racked up a win apiece.

Yet another top half of the table showdown has fifth-placed Glasgow Perthshire determined to get their own back on Yoker Athletic – two places above them – for a 3-0 mauling at Holm Park earlier this season.

And league leaders Largs Thistle, who have made former Clyde and Morton striker Ryan Kane available for transfer, are facing a difficult hurdle in trying to overcome Renfrew at Western Park.

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