'We already have 14 or 15 signed for next season' - Lanark United boss Simon Eeles optimistic about positive campaign next season after losing to Pollok in cup

Lanark United player/co-boss Simon Eeles is confident about the side’s prospects next season, despite experiencing a baptism of fire since he and Andy Soutar took over in the Moor Park dugout last November following the resignation of previous boss Colin Slater and his backroom staff.

Eeles – whose side impressed for long spells despite going down to a harsh 5-1 home cup defeat by top flight Pollok on Saturday – inherited a team bottom of West of Scotland League Conference C on just eight points after 18 league games when he came in five months ago.

There was also soon major upheaval when the Moor Park stands were wiped out in near 100mph winds caused by the effects of Storm Arwen, which kept United away from Moor Park for several weeks.

But now, five months later, Eeles already has 14 players signed for next term after managing to double Lanark’s points tally in their final 10 league fixtures. And a brand new stand is due to be built at Moor Park this summer.

"We worked really hard over the last few months to make sure that we didn’t have a rebuild job this summer,” Eeles said.

"The players that we brought in, we got them signed for next season. We have 14 or 15 signed and we have three targets we want to speak to over the next couple of weeks.

"We were really hoping to get the squad in place really early because we got ourselves in trouble last season. When we came in we had to make sure we tried to stabilise the club and make sure we’ve got healthy numbers for next season.

"That was the main focus for next season as we wat to hit the ground running for the start of next season rather than chasing our tail.

"And hopefully the new stand will be there for the start of next season. It’s weird playing at Moor Park in front of an open space where the stand used to be.”

The positive impact of Eeles and Soutar’s management was seen for long spells in Saturday’s 5-1 home reverse to Pollok – third in the Premier Division – in The Kilmarnock Pie West of Scotland League Cup encounter.

Trailing just 1-0 at half-time in front of a healthy crowd, United went two down in the second half before pulling a goal back on 65 minutes when Jack Hamilton rifled the ball in from a Deryn Lang pass.

"It was quite an even game in the first half,” Eeles said. “Both teams had a couple of chances.

"We put a lot into the first 45 minutes, hit the post with a Lang shot at 0-0 following a corner, and did well.

"But we conceded a goal via a header from a corner which was disappointing.

"Then into the second half, in almost identical fashion, from a corner their boy headed against a post and it hit our goalkeeper Gareth Halford and went in for an own goal. It was just an unfortunate one.

"Then we did well, scoring to make it 2-1 and getting a good lift from that.

"We were pushing with three up front and then unfortunately we gave the ball away, got punished on the counter attack when they scored.

"Then the game ran away from us in the last 15 or 20 minutes when we were chasing the game and Pollok – a quality side – picked us off.

"I thought the scoreline was pretty harsh on us. I thought there were a lot of good performances.”

With all of United’s competitive matches in season 2021-22 now having been played, Eeles revealed what will be happening for his players between now and the start of next season.

"The boys have worked really hard and we have quite a small squad so we feel that we need a wee break now but we’ll probably come back a bit earlier than other teams.

"We will shelf it for a few weeks then get back. We are hoping pre-season training will start in early June but it really depends on exactly when the league starts.

"That may happen earlier due to the SFA having a break next winter because of the World Cup.”