DELIGHTED to finish runners-up in the curtailed season just gone through the coronavirus crisis, Hill of Beath Hawthorn boss John Mitchell feels that the new 18 team top division in the East of Scotland League planned for 2020-2021 will provide some interesting challenges.

When the season was called a couple of weeks ago, on the points per game basis used by the SPFL to decide the senior ranks, Hill of Beath finished second to champions Boness United, being above the likes of Linlithgow Rose, Broxburn and Camelon.

It was a 'finish' which gave everyone at Keirs Park a lift after the season was suspended way back in mid March.

Said John: "Boness were the most consistent team in the Premier, they ground out a lot of important wins through their solid organisation and I always felt that if any team wanted to win the title they would have to finish above United.

"We played 18 league games and totalled 37 points, which was a good return, and to finish as runners-up was a pretty good performance with some outstanding results".

Boness will now be expected to head to the Lowland League, and Tynecastle, Lothian Thistle and Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts will make the new set-up an 18 team division. This will see four teams relegated next season to return to 16 teams for 2021-2022.

John expects it will again by a highly competitive division next term: "It will be an exciting time in the pyramid system with the West of Scotland set-up up coming to life and we will be doing our best to be up their challenging in the East of Scotland Premier Division.

"It will be a really tough league, with the likes of Broxburn, Linlithgow, Penicuik, Musselburgh, Camelon and Tranent, all looking to make their mark but we have all of our squad from last season signed on and we will be looking to add a couple of our Under 20s and a couple of newcomers to augment the ranks.

"However, we have a good squad of players and they showed last term that at times they could match any team in the division, so our aim is to be up their challenging."

He thinks that one of the biggest cup competitions next term will be the South Challenge Cup: "The west clubs will be in that with the likes of Auchinleck Talbot, Maybole and Petershill looking to make a mark, so it will be a high quality tournament."

John hopes that the new season can get underway fairly timeously: "If we can get going in late August or early September that would be ideal, but we will just have to see how things develop over the next few weeks".