Buckie Thistle manager Graeme Stewart does not believe this week’s cup double header will make or break the Jags’ season.
Thistle host Formartine United in tonight’s Morrison Motors (Turriff) Aberdeenshire Shield semi final, which is followed by a Highland League Cup last eight tie at home to Brora Rangers on Saturday.
Buckie are currently seventh in the table, and although Stewart is determined to set up a Shield final against either Banks o’ Dee or Fraserburgh who play on Wednesday, the Jags boss feels his side have plenty to play for in the league.
Stewart said: “No matter what happens in these next two cup games, I want us to push for the top-six or even the top-four. I look at how good our performances are, and we have been improving.
“The league is beyond us, and although pushing into the top-four would be a very hard achievement, I think we can do it.
“If we can get a good run in the cup however, get to a final or another semi final, it keeps people interested. It’s good for the directors and it probably helps us get bigger crowds.
“I don’t like saying it because players should be focused, but if there’s a cup final place at stake and boys might give an extra one or two per cent to make sure they stay in the team, then it benefits me.”
Stewart, who hopes to have Lewis MacKinnon and Callum Murray back after being rested for Saturday’s 4-0 win over Fort William, is targeting a complete display against United, adding: “We probably need to put a whole-game performance together. We have been guilty of playing well for only one half. I have said to the guys that when they’re competing with teams like Formartine, Cove and Brora, they really need to put 90 minutes.
“That’s the next step to take us to the next level.”
Formartine boss Paul Lawson guided the Pitmedden club to the Aberdeenshire Cup and Highland League Cup last term, and he is eager to stay in contention for another trophy.
Lawson, who is without suspended midfielder Stuart Anderson, said: “As a club I think we should be getting to finals on a regular basis and be challenging at the top end of the table.
“That’s what we are aiming to do. We were fortunate enough to win two trophies last year, and we’ve now got a chance to get to another final. That’s the motivation as a player and a manager – these are the sort of games you want to play in.
“We played Buckie not long ago and although we won on the night they caused us lots of problems.
“We know it’s not going to be an easy game – it never is regardless of what their form is.
“It’s going to be even harder but we are on a good run ourselves, so we will go into the game with confidence.”