'I felt extra pressure to score penalty' - Lanark United co-boss Simon Eeles on last minute spot kick which earned victory in final league game of season

Thirty-nine-year-old player/co-boss Simon Eeles was the last gasp hero as Lanark United ended their West of Scotland League Conference C campaign with a 1-0 home win over Kilsyth Rangers on Saturday.
Simon Eeles (right), pictured with fellow co-boss Andy Soutar, was a penalty scorer in the last minute on SaturdaySimon Eeles (right), pictured with fellow co-boss Andy Soutar, was a penalty scorer in the last minute on Saturday
Simon Eeles (right), pictured with fellow co-boss Andy Soutar, was a penalty scorer in the last minute on Saturday

After a foul on United’s Cammy Marshall in the final minute, Eeles stepped up to net from the penalty spot at Moor Park, which has been back in commission for United games over the past two weekends after three months’ absence due to major structural damage caused by Storm Arwen.

“I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a bit of extra pressure taking that penalty because I’m the player/co-manager,” Eeles – who played the full 90 minutes in midfield – told the Carluke and Lanark Gazette.

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"But I’ve always been reasonably confident when I’ve had penalties so I was fairly confident of sticking it away.

"I would have got stick off Andy (fellow United co-boss Andy Soutar) if I hadn’t.

“I blasted the penalty into the corner, which I have always tried to do.”

Former Blantyre winger Eeles revealed that he has been involved as a player more than expected since first taking on the Lanark job with Soutar last November.

"I’ve played in a lot of the games,” he said.

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“I’ve probably been involved in more than I would have liked.

"Playing and managing has probably been a lot easier because Andy is there.

"Because we’ve got the two of us managing it’s worked quite well this season.

"Playing as a 39-year-old has not been too bad. I have kept myself in quite good nick.

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"But Sundays can be a challenge as if you get wee knocks they are a wee bit harder to get over than they were when you’re 25.

"I’m still enjoying it. I’m going to keep playing next season but I have no plans beyond that.”

United have improved steadily under the new management team in recent months, winning two and drawing two of the last 10 league games.

"The boys have been a credit to themselves since we’ve come in,” Eeles added. “They’ve worked ever so hard and they are starting to get the rewards that their performances maybe weren’t getting.

“I was pretty pleased with the result on Saturday.

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"I thought we had actually played better the previous week when we got beaten 2-1 off Neilston. So I don’t think we played as well as we can.”

Eeles and Soutar have also led United to the quarter-finals of The Kilmarnock Pie West of Scotland League Cup, with a home game against Pollok coming up at Moor Park on Saturday, April 16.

"We’ve got that game to look forward to,” Eeles said.

"It’s a massive game for the club and the community.

“And we’ve managed to sign virtually all of the squad for next season so everything is looking positive."

United are keen to play friendly matches on Saturdays through the spring, with a collaborative effort ongoing with local rivals Carluke Rovers to get a local mini league set up to keep the players active as leagues begin to reach their conclusion.

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