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More clean sheets - and clean boots - is what Rothes boss wants

By Craig Christie

STEVEN MacDonald is happy to see his Rothes team get down and dirty for Highland League points – as long as that doesn’t apply to the condition of their boots.

The Speysiders boss wants to instil a more professional and disciplined attitude in his young side in an effort to turn close matches their way and push up the league.

Too often on the receiving end of late goals denying them positive results in recent weeks, Rothes bucked the trend at Princess Royal Park on Saturday by snatching victory at the death.

“We have a lot of young boys and the quicker they realise how to win and want that feeling every week, the better,” he said.

“We are trying to emphasise this in training and on Saturdays to be more professional.

“A couple of the young boys had dirty boots before the game on Saturday. They’ll be fined but that says to me they are not taking their football seriously enough and are not preparing properly. We are trying to make them realise it’s more than turning up for 90 minutes on a Saturday.

“The passion and commitment has to be there if they want to succeed at this level and most of them are young enough to do even better in the game. They have to really want it though and make extra effort to get better.”

Speyside lad Dale Wood is one of Rothes’ young stars at 22, and he climbed off the bench to fire home the only goal of Saturday’s contest in the dying minutes.

It’s a goal MacDonald hopes will give the defender a surge in confidence.

The manager also plans to use the weekend win as a springboard for a strong Rothes finish to break into the top half of the Highland League table.

“Obviously winning and getting three points was the priority with Vale above us,” he said.

“But I was most pleased to get a clean sheet and also to win ugly because that is something we’ve struggled with when everything is not perfect. That’s what we want every week.”

“We put Dale on for the last few minutes and to be fair to him it was horrible sleety conditions and he could easily have not fancied it. He showed a great attitude though and when the ball dropped for him about 16 yards out he finished it with great composure.

“Dale was our player of the year last season and deserved it. Hopefully this can lift his confidence and get him back to the levels we know he can play at.

A week before the Banff game, Rothes grabbed a stoppage time lead at Huntly only to concede an equaliser almost straight away in a 4-4 draw.

“The boys were hyper after Saturday’s game but we took a wee minute to say to them look at the difference with this feeling to the week before in the Huntly changing room. It’s important the boys know the difference and how to get there,” he said.

“We have six games left and we really want to get up to ninth place to finish higher than last season which is a realistic target now.”

MacDonald welcomed back summer signing Iain Maclellan to his squad last week after two months out injured, though the
winger is well short of match fitness.

In the ’Vale win, Rothes were missing three key players in injured centre back Jamie Duff, midfielder Alan Pollock who was ill and top scorer Steven Anderson due to a two-game ban picked up for his red card at Huntly.

Anderson also misses Rothes’ trip to Forres this weekend but Duff and Pollock could return.

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