St Cuthbert Wanderers big game hunters shot down another foe on Saturday.
The Kirkcudbright side took a 2-1 victory over Threave Rovers to complete a league double over their local rivals for the first time in many years.
Now manager Jim McCrossan wants them to add consistency to ensure they can sustain a late season charge for silverware, with the win leaving them nine points behind Threave and Dalbeattie Star with games in hand.
He said: “They seem to be able to rise for every big challenge. I’ve been saying all season that in big games these boys never cease to amaze me. We’ve played Threave twice and Dalbeattie twice and won three out of the four.
“I can’t remember the last time we beat Threave home and away in the league. It’ll be a fair bit of time and it just shows you how difficult it was.
“It’s maybe a consistency thing for us, but we’ve only lost two games – one to Dalbeattie and the other to Abbey Vale – and we drew with Wigtown away from home when we were really under strength, so there’s not much margin for error.
“Dalbeattie have won 12 out of 12 so you can’t see them losing three out of the next 12 and they can only throw it away but we’ll just try to win every game and see what happens.”
Saints were in front after just a couple of minutes when Ross McCrindle took advantage of some uncertainty in the home defence to volley home the opener.
Threave drew level when Jamie Struthers headed Sam Warren’s cross past Shaun Hutchison but Saints retook the lead before the break when striker Craig Rudd shot past Parker from 10 yards.
Their defence stood firm in the second half and Roddy Cooksley was needed to clear a shot off the line before Dean Thomson had an effort saved and Threave’s Scott Wilby was sent off for swearing at an official.
“We got a perfect start,” said McCrossan. “They seemed to try to play down the channels to Sam Warren, which is one of their strengths, and Jamie Struthers is on fire at the moment up front and took his header well, but the boys dug in and we regained in the lead.
“There’s times when you’re playing the likes of Threave, Wigtown and Dalbeattie when you’re not going to have any possession and will be chasing the game a wee bit. We expected that and Threave had a spell before we got back into it and had some opportunities.
“We had two goals disallowed and I thought one was touch and go and then Dean Thomson was clean through but he just didn’t have the energy to finish it. Just before that chance there was some pinball carry on from a corner in our penalty box and it was cleared off the line but other than that I can’t remember any clear cut chances
“Justin Nicholl’s class showed, he strolled through the game and passed with relative ease but it was a team performance. We took Jim Kirk off at half-time and put Barry Whyte to right back and it curtailed Sam Warren’s runs. It was a good all round team performance.
“The midfields cancelled each other out and I thought we certainly deserved the win. It was a sporting game – it was a derby but there were no wild tackles, it was played in the proper manner and Threave were very dignified in defeat and I’d imagine it was good to watch as a neutral.”
Saints go to Creetown in the South of Scotland Challenge Cup this weekend with a trip to Lothian Thistle in the SFA South Regional Cup loming large on the horizon.
McCrossan added: “It’s the biggest south cup we play in and Creetown is certainly not an easy place to go. We’ve a couple of boys suffering from injuries so we may have to change the team about. If they don’t come through the boys that were on the bench will get their opportunity.
“It’s not about the 11 players, it’s about the 16 on the day and we had a very strong bench on Saturday.
“We had Lothian Thistle watched last week and it’s going to be a difficult game, but with it being a big game it wouldn’t surprise me if they played well.”