SAUCHIE gaffer Fraser Duncan was delighted to see his side's professional performance on Saturday secure their first three points of 2022.

The Reds travelled to Crossgates and a Danny Smith double helped Duncan's men on their way to a 3-1 victory.

Duncan told Advertiser Sport: "It's a difficult place to go to, they're sitting up there in the league. We knew it was going to be difficult, they obviously came here earlier in the season and beat us 5-2.

"The weather conditions made the park really heavy but the boys were up for it, they were raring to go and buzzing to get back after their break. It was good, really good performance from the lads, they played some great football.

"I asked them before the game for a professional performance, get the job done early doors and we did that, we defended really well. We passed the ball well, won the battles in midfield so I'm delighted. It's a hard place to go so to get three points and come back down the road is brilliant for us.

"Obviously we wanted to keep a clean sheet. I think the boys have defended really, really well, we've just switched off for a minute and the boy's cut inside and finished well.

"We were disappointed to lose the goal but the most pleasing bit of the whole day for me was we didn't crumble when we did concede.

"The result kicks us on to this weekend."

The result moved Sauchie further away from the bottom of the table but with five games in hand and a strong squad, Duncan has no concerns.

He continued: "We obviously want to push up the league. I've got no fears about being in a relegation battle.

"The big thing now is we don't want to look down the way, we want to look up the way. We're far too good a side to be anywhere near that relegation battle.

"I've set the boys a target to go and finish in the top eight. That's what we're aiming for at the minute.

"We're still in all the cups and we had a great run in the Scottish Cup, so, overall, if we finish in the top eight and get further in those cups then it's been not a bad year, especially considering the start that we had."

Next up for Sauchie is Inverkeithing who, despite playing five more games, are only three points ahead.

"If our boys can play the way we did on Saturday I've got no qualms about Saturday," Duncan continued.

"It's all to play for. Once we get through January and February and put points on the board. Then we head into March, April and May and we want to finish well this year so we can have a good start next year."

Meanwhile, Will Greenhorn's loan from Stirling Albion was cut short earlier this month and Duncan says the club will look for a replacement.

He continued: "Will's done really well, he came in at a point where we desperately needed a right back. He done really well and was involved right through the Scottish Cup. He's done excellent for us, he's started seven or eight games for us which is a lot in such a short period.

"Stirling Albion have recalled him because they're short on numbers and the new manager wants a look at him and that's totally understandable.

"We'll probably look at getting somebody in for that right back area. Mark Finlayson had a great game on Saturday stepping in at right back which he always does, you can put Marko anywhere on the park and he always puts in a good performance so he'll play there at the moment.

"If we can sign someone to go in there then I'll push Marko forward because I feel he's held back [at right back] but apart from that the biggest thing is getting players' contracts sorted for next season.

"We've had a few offers for players already, clubs are trying to get in nice and early to get our players. We, as a club, and me, as a manager, need to stop that from happening."