Rovers’ 3-0 win at Ayrshire rivals Bonnyton Thistle, on a day when only three Second Division matches beat the winter weather, saw Friels’ side increase their lead at the top of the table to 16 points.
The Winton manager says he’s delighted at the way his side have carried their 2023 form into the New Year so far – particularly after a run of postponements towards the end of last year.
He told the Herald: “We had good momentum before Christmas, then it was a wee bit stop start, so we really had to start again.
“We made a good base last week [winning 3-0 at home to Forth Wanderers], and again on Saturday we were close to where we were before we stopped.
“It’s a difficult place to go with the astro and weather conditions but we got the ball rolling again and we just hope to continue that.”
With such a lead – even if teams below them have games in hand – some observers might think the Winton Park side could be forgiven for thinking of title wins already.
But Friels says that’s far from the case, and that he and his squad are simply taking each match as it comes.
“We’ve got no great ambition other than winning the next game,” he said.
“We only look one game in front – we’re just concentrating on winning each game.
“I’ve told the boys not to chase the points that get you promoted. Just enjoy each week just now.
“We’re on a nine game winning run and it’s important we approach each game the same way.”
Winton now take a brief break from league action as they prepare for the short trip to Johnstone to face Fourth Division high-flyers Thorn Athletic in the West of Scotland Cup on January 27.
The winner of the tie – which has already been postponed twice thanks to the winter weather – will face Premier Division big boys Darvel in the last 16 next month.
“It’s good to have a week away from league duties,” Friels said. “It allows me to rotate the squad because it’s hard for players to get into a winning team.
“It gives me an opportunity to give boys a chance and keep the levels of fitness up.
“The massive incentive isn’t who we would play. To be top of the league and in the last 16 of the West going into this time of year is exciting.”
But despite insisting that his players take one game at a time, Friels says he’s confident they are more than up to the task of making it a season to remember.
“We just need to work hard at training and enjoy the game that’s on the Saturday,” he said. “We don’t look at anything bigger.
“At the end of the season, if you keep doing that, hopefully we’ll have won something shiny.
“We’ve got a good mentality. We’ve got good players within the squad in Liam McGuinness, Alan Cairns, Chrissy Craig, who are all keeping the boys’ feet firmly on the ground.
“We’re not getting carried away.”
This Saturday’s cup tie at the Thorn Athletic Sports Academy gets under way at 1.30pm.