Montrose boss Stewart Petrie is looking to finish the year on a high by securing bragging rights for the club’s fans against Angus rivals Arbroath at Links Park this afternoon.
The Gable Endies have won four out of their last five matches including last week’s 3-1 win over Stenhousemuir to take them up to fourth place in the table.
Despite that form, Petrie knows exactly how tough today’s game against his good friend Dick Campbell’s table-topping Red Lichties will be, especially as Arbroath will still be hurting after their long unbeaten run came to an end last week against Raith Rovers.
However, the Montrose manager hopes the match will be another barometer of how far his team have come this season, especially after they were beaten 4-0 by the same opponents on the opening day of the campaign.
Petrie said: “It was a big result for us last week as it took us nine points clear of the bottom which was important for us.
“Overall, it has been a good quarter for us, there is no doubt about that but we need to keep kicking on and take things one game at a time.
“All we are concentrating on is making sure we are not bottom of the league – I don’t read too much into being fourth at this stage of the season.
“The run that Dick had Arbroath on is incredible at our level. To go almost half a season without losing a game is ridiculous especially in a league as competitive as this with one of the teams being full-time as well.”
Petrie added: “Arbroath are the best team in the league and they are top of the table on merit.
“So regardless of when you play them, you know if you aren’t at your best, you aren’t going to get anything out of the game.
“It will certainly give us a gauge of where we are at again.
“The first game of the season, we were a wee bit like rabbits in the headlights.
“We certainly improved from that in the last match against them at Gayfield and if we can improve again, we will get even closer to them.
“It will be a great game for everybody concerned. There will be a big crowd and it is great to be playing against Dick and the boys again.
“It would be superb to get a positive result for the fans and finish the year on a high.”
Montrose will be without the injured Martyn Fotheringham and Matty Allan while Danny Cavanagh will miss out through illness however Martin Rennie returns to the squad.
Meanwhile, Red Lichties boss Campbell is looking for his players to bounce back from last week’s disappointing defeat to Raith and embark on another long unbeaten run.
However, he will be taking absolutely nothing for granted in a derby against a Montrose outfit that recently achieved what his team could not by beating Rovers at Links Park earlier this month.
Arbroath will be without on-loan Dunfermline striker Callum Smith for the game but influential midfielder Gavin Swankie is available after the club successfully appealed his sending off against Raith.
The 35-year-old picked up two bookings but the second for simulation that led to the red has now been rescinded after an appeal at Hampden yesterday.
The Gayfield gaffer said: “Callum will miss the Montrose game as he is suffering from flu.
“That is unfortunate as I was considering handing him a start.
“Tam O’Brien is fit again and trained on Thursday night so he comes straight back into the squad.
“We will also have Gavin available after successfully appealing his second yellow from last week.
“It goes without saying that last Saturday was disappointing.
“Nobody likes losing a long unbeaten record to their closest rivals in the league.
“The lads now need to try to put together another run although we know we have an incredibly-tough game this afternoon at Montrose.
“I am sure Stewart will pull a rabbit or two out of the hat.
“And if the lads needed any extra motivation, Montrose did what we couldn’t do three weeks ago and beat Raith Rovers.
“So we will have to be back to our best if we hope to return to winning ways immediately.”