Hives keen to carry league form into the new year

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Stonehaven Hives travel to Inverurie this weekend to take on Colony Park, and manager Ian Esslemont is keen for his team to take their North Region Superleague form into the new year.

Hives are currently sitting second with two games in hand against their opponents with both teams on 24 points.

And they have one game in hand against league leaders Dyce Juniors, who are on top with 28 points.

Esslemont is happy with how the season has gone for his team so far.

“To be unbeaten in the first half of the season is magnificent,” he said.

“But some of the draws did hurt us as you lose two points.”

The last league game of 2016 was a 1-1 draw against 12th placed Newburgh Thistle in an away fixture, which Esslemont admitted was disappointing.

“The players were disappointed,” he said.

Going into the second half of the season, Esslemont is aware that they cannot afford to take the teams around them lightly.

“To be in that top five is good, but we have to be at the top of our form every game.

“The teams around us are finding form: Dyce has had a good start to the first half of the season; Banks o’ Dee are banging in a lot of goals and Culter are finding form in the league,” he said, highlighting a few of the teams.

Having said that, he admitted that he has stopped looking at the league positions and taking factors such as games in hand into consideration.

“I’ve stopped looking at the league as I feel it doesn’t do any good.

“You don’t win the league by Christmas.

“It can be a distraction as there can be a feeling that you’ve already won but we will simply take it one game at a time.”

And he noted that the disappointment of being out of two cups may be a blessing in disguise going into 2017.

“We are out of two cups which may help us in the league,” he said.

“We would like to still be in the cups, but we have to take advantage of being able to concentrate on the league games now.”

Stonehaven were knocked out of the Scottish Junior Cup by Greenock Juniors early in December –a result that was much delayed due to postponements because of poor weather and when the game was finally played in Stonehaven it was a draw, triggering a replay in Greenock, which they lost 3-2.

The following week Hives will again travel north to take on Newburgh Thislte.