Buckie Thistle manager Graeme Stewart believes his senior players are leading by example following the club’s fine start to the season.
The Jags have a 100% winning record after three matches in the Highland League and showed their confidence with a 3-1 win at Brechin City in the SPFL Trust Trophy.
Stewart believes he has the right blend of youth and experience at Victoria Park and hopes to see his elder statesmen continue to show their leadership on the pitch in the weeks ahead.
He said: “John McLeod never came back and Steven Ross lost contact with football but the break has given a few the chance to recover from long term injuries.
“Kevin Fraser, Sam Urquhart are still in their prime while Hamish Munro is a fitness fanatic. He’s in his mid-30s now but he is a sport scientist and looks after himself so he can keep going for a few more years.
“We’ve got a few in their prime and I’m looking to them to carry the younger lads and get the best out of them on the pitch.”
Buckie bid to continue their fine start to the campaign when local rivals Deveronvale visit Victoria Park on Saturday.
The confidence in the camp was evident after grinding out victory at Brechin despite being down to 10 men following Sam Morrison’s red card and Stewart is eager to maintain the momentum.
He said: “We’re playing well at home and it would be nice to get another win in front of our fans.
“We’re playing well but most importantly we have a good foundation with Kevin Main and our two centre-halves in front of him. They give the rest of the team confidence to go and play.”
Meanwhile, following a 4-1 defeat to another of the division’s title hopefuls, Brechin City, last weekend, Deveronvale boss Craig Stewart has been working to ensure defensive lapses against the Hedgemen are not repeated against Buckie.
Stewart, who has been steering his side through a tricky opening spell of fixtures which has seen the Vale play Brora and Brechin, with Buckie and then Inverurie to come, said: “When we look back on the game, our defensive general play was actually ok, but we’ve just totally switched off on three occasions. We’ve highlighted it to the players and done a wee bit at training on Monday and Wednesday on certain plays during the game in the hope we can stop Buckie.
“We’re aware of the fixtures we’ve got, and it’s very much a tough run. The way we’ve tried to do it is tell the players to focus on one game at a time – set up the game plan, see if we can follow it and where it takes us. We’re a team in transition, and there’s been a turnover of players with a new central defensive partnership which is going to take time to bed in as well.”
Despite the fixture list, the Vale have three points on the board from their victory at Nairn County, and Stewart added: “We don’t like getting beat and losing goals, but if there were no positives, then I’d be concerned, but it’s not the case. There’s plenty and something to build on.
“It would be good if we could pick up a result on Saturday. It’s a local derby and if the players can’t get themselves up for it then they shouldn’t be playing for Deveronvale.
“I think Buckie will be up there challenging and that’s without even seeing them. Their squad is very, very strong and they play good stuff. The majority of the boys have been together a while, which helps.”
Robbie Allan is a doubt for the Vale. with Aaron Hamilton out and Courtney Cooper unavailable.