JOHNSTONE Burgh boss Jamie McKim praised his players after they handed him an early Christmas present by securing their fourth victory in a row.

A second half goal from Sam Esplin was enough to earn a 1-0 win against Forth Wanderers on Saturday.

The result at Kingshill Park also saw Burgh record their fourth consecutive clean sheet and sent them into the winter break on a high.

McKim told Gazette Sport: “Forth is a hard place to go. They put a lot of pressure on you and every time they get a throw-in in your half, they put it on your goalkeeper.

“Every time they get the chance, they put the ball in your box because they are a big side – but that makes our win on Saturday even more pleasing.

“We’re delighted to finish the year off the way we have. That’s another 12 points we have managed to pick up.”

Burgh remain eighth in Conference A but are just five points behind fourth-placed Maybole and have a game in hand.

“I don’t think you can ask for much more in the last four games,” said McKim.

“We knew we had a poor start to the season. It wasn’t a great first eight or nine games and, four or five weeks ago, we sat down and set a target for where we wanted to be now, which we’ve reached.

“We were after the wins and the clean sheets and we needed the points.

“We had to get ourselves back in it and we’ve managed it.”

McKim was also pleased to see his gamble of playing Esplin as a striker pay off against Forth.

He said: “We had to move Sam up top because we’ve been toiling up there a wee bit, with only Brian [Connor] as the recognised striker.

“We have some young players but I don’t want to put too much pressure on them too soon.

“With Sam’s stats and the amount of goals and assists he has got, it made sense to put him up there – and the risk paid off.”

Elsewhere, Renfrew ended 2021 with a postponement as they were forced to call off their clash with Cambuslang Rangers due to Covid cases.

Several first team players, along with boss Jimmy Quigley and a number of committee members, were affected.

Renfrew will return to action on January 8, when they travel to Ashfield, while Burgh’s first game of 2022 is a home clash with Irvine Victoria.