Leith in good heart for championship decider

Leith Athletic manager Willie McFarlane has already guided this famous old club to promotion into the Central Taxis Premier Division in only his first season in charge and tomorrow his side has the opportunity to be crowned as First Division champions.

Leith currently lead the table by one point heading into tomorrow's clash with second-placed Gretna 2008 and McFarlane would love to end the campaign on a high. "We know that it will be a very difficult game, a one-off which is basically a cup final," said McFarlane. "I reckon that Gretna are definitely beatable but it will mean all of our players playing to the top of their abilities."

Leith set up this championship decider with a 4-1 away victory against Gala Fairydean on Tuesday evening. "It was a brilliant performance and I could not have asked for any more from my players," said McFarlane. "That's 21 league games we have now played and scored 77 goals. I cannot believe how well things have gone, especially with us having to contend with a crop of injuries."

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McFarlane has been forced into playing youngsters from his Under 19 side as a result of long-term injuries to goalkeeper Ian Gordon, Paul Coleman, Martin McAuley, Kevin Freedman and Jason Stevens while Jack Combe and Willie Bremner are also rated in the very doubtful category for the foreseeable future.

"We have kept soldiering on and a huge bonus is having players who have stuck together and shown a great attitude," said McFarlane. "They have all shown magnificent commitment throughout the season.

"I have watched Gretna a few times this season and I have been very impressed with them because they have some very good young players who have gone on a fantastic run. They beat us 1-0 in our earlier meeting at Raydale Park in what was a really tight game. We hit the woodwork a couple of times and Gretna sneaked their win but we are confident that we will not be beaten tomorrow. We have to ensure that the tempo is high straight from the start. We must keep close to them and when we don't have the ball then we will have to work extremely hard to get it back quickly."

Leith have been well served by Euan Campbell who has now scored in six consecutive games while James Burstow has scored three goals in two games. Gary Black has been a colossus this season with his non-stop work rate and the fact that he leads by example, both on and off the park. Steven Lynch, Leith's 19- year-old centre half, has played in every minute of every match this season, the only player in their squad to have achieved this feat.

McFarlane added: "It's not just the players who have made this a fantastic season. My assistant Paul Adamson and our coach Derek Riddell have been great because they help bring different ideas to the training ground. Tam Currie has also been a tower of strength doing so many tasks for us. Everybody around the club is very positive and we are all looking forward to tomorrow's game. We will be giving it our best shot and hopefully that will give us a great end to the league season with the championship trophy in our hands."

Meanwhile, the Gretna 2008 manager, Stuart Rome, is also up-beat about his club's season so far. "It has been magnificent because our target at the beginning of the season was promotion and that has been achieved," said Rome. "We have had 12 straight wins in a league which is very difficult to get out of. Leith play some nice football and we are coming to Edinburgh to enjoy our day - whatever will be, will be."

The game kicks-off at the Civil Service Sports Ground, Marine Drive at 2.30 pm.