Experience the key as Kilsyth boss targets play-off place

Kilsyth Rangers are hoping to hit the heights this season
Kilsyth Rangers are hoping to hit the heights this season

Kilsyth Rangers boss Keith Hogg has set a promotion play-off place as the target his side should be aiming for this season.

Five straight league wins at the start of last season sparked talk of a push for a place in the Super League Premier Division before a slump saw Rangers slide down the table.

They steadied the ship but a number of draws saw them unable to get back into the promotion hunt.

They still finished in sixth place though - one place and three points better off than the previous campaign.

Hogg believes they can kick on from there in the coming campaign - hopefully by blending the experience of his key summer recruits with the enthusiasm and ability of the younger players in his existing squad.

Club favourite Franny Kelly has returned to Duncansfield after spells at Linlithgow Rose and Camelon and former Linlithgow Rose skipper Mark Tyrell, after nine years at Prestonfield, has moved to be closer to his Kilsyth home due to work commitments.

Former Petershill and Blantyre Vics striker Scott Davidson is also on board, as is ex-Queen’s Park defender David McWilliams.

Hogg said: “Franny has tremendous ability but the moves to Linlithgow and Camelon didn’t really work out and we’re delighted to have him back.

“He knows the club and the fans love him. In his last season he scored 23 goals from left midfield and that kind of return is a tremendous asset to have.

“I played with Mark and when I found out he was wanting a club closer to home it was no-brainer.

“He left Linlithgow due to his work situation and Mark is the kind of guy who will either give you 100 per cent or walk away if he can’t.

“The experience and knowledge of the game he has is massive and he’ll be a great help for the younger guys in our squad, the likes of Nicky Prentice, Corey Pearson and Damon Welsh.

“Scott Davidson is someone with unbelievable ability - he scored against Ashfield last week from 30 yards with a shot into the top corner.

“There had been lots of interest in Scott and he was training with Annan so again I’m delighted we were able to get him.

“It’s all about adding depth to the squad and I definitely the play-off is what we should be aiming for - there’s no question for me that’s where we should be setting our sights.

“Some people might write us off because we’ve never been up there but it’s all about trying to improve year on year. It don’t think it’s outwith us and we might surprise a few people.”

However Hogg knows it’s not going to be easy due to the strength of the sides coming into the First Division league - at both ends - to augment the teams already there.

He said: “You have Irvine Vics and Girvan coming up and they are good sides by all accounts.

“And in Irvine Meadow, Petershill and Shettleston you have three tough sides coming down who will be determined to go straight back up.

“It’s going to be a very tight league and teams will all take points off each other.

“I don’t think it will be like it was a couple of years ago when you had Pollok running away with the title. It will be closer.”

Before the league campaign gets under way at the end of the month though, Rangers have their group in the Sectional League Cup - the traditional curtain-raiser to the league season.

Hogg said: “I know some teams look upon it as a kind of extended pre-season to get themselves ready for their first league game. But it’s a cup and you want to do as well in it as you can.

“It also means four local derbies and you can learn a lot about your players from these kind of games.”