East Kilbride boss discusses Bonnyrigg Rose standard as he eyes defensive imporvement next term

Boss Kevin Rutkiewicz admits East Kilbride have to sharpen up their act defensively next season after Lowland champions Bonnyrigg Rose denied Kilby the runners-up spot in the Lowland League.

Sean Brown’s second half header was all that separated the two sides at K-Park in a 1-0 defeat in EK’s final league match of the season.

The defending left a lot to be desired as Brown headed home at the back post and the new Kilby boss says when he looks at the final table, the club’s record of 40 goals conceded in 34 games this term shows it will be a key area in the close season – although he stressed there has to be a collective effort across the squad to improve those figures.

While Bonnyrigg marched on to the pyramid play-offs, a seventh defeat of the season for EK means they have slipped to third behind Celtic B and could end up fourth if Rangers B win their final match on Saturday at home to Dalbeattie.

Assessing his side’s display on Saturday, Rutkiewicz said: “I don’t think we deserved to win the game, but I don’t think we deserved to lose the game either.

“I don’t think either keeper was really worked, but it was a good exercise for us to gauge the squad, although Bonnyrigg would have had their eye on other things and might have been a bit lacking a wee edge compared to earlier in the season.

East Kilbride boss Kevin Rutkiewicz

“It’s very disappointing to lose, especially the manner in which we lost the goal. It was a poor one to concede collectively. The goal started with a free-kick in their half and it was a fairly avoidable goal.

“Now that the dust has settled and you look at the table, 40 goals in the goals against column is one of the reasons we’ve finished where we are so that’s something we will look to make tighter next season.

“I think we’ve been dominant in a lot of games, but it’s maybe been that concentration level and losing goals when we are on top [that is the issue].

“Defending, for me, always starts from the front but we haven’t had the time yet to work with the boys on a shape and help shore that up a wee bit.

“When you compare Bonnyrigg’s goals against column [28] to ours, there is a significant difference there.

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“But that doesn’t just boil down to the defense. We’ve been a very disrupted team with lots of bodies in and out, for various reasons, and it is something we want to improve on.

“That’s not aimed at the defense or Conor [Brennan] in goal, because he’s a very accomplished goalkeeper.

“We are very forward-thinking.

“We’ve got full-backs who like to get forward, midfielders that like to get forward and our job is to try and get the balance right of tightening up a wee bit but not losing that attacking threat.

“The goals for columns [92] is very impressive this season and we want to try and maintain that without losing as many goals.”

East Kilbride’s Liam Watt in action in the defeat to Bonnyrigg

EK face Berwick – managed by exEK boss Stuart Malcolm – in the quarter-finals of the Lowland League Cup on Saturday and Rutkiewicz added: “It’s important that things don’t fall flat now the league season is over.

“There’s players that play for 20-odd years and don’t get the opportunity to get some silverware so I think it is important that we have total focus going into this game and give it everything we’ve got.

“It’s another opportunity for the players to impress and move forward in the cup.

“Berwick are a very well-organized team and Stuart has got them moving forward from when he went in [last year].

“He will want to come up and put one over on his old club as well.

“We are in a transitional period at the moment and there’s not going to be any knee-jerk reactions made.

“This Saturday provides a chance for boys to put their case forward.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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