Golspie Sutherland are staying in Fife on Friday as they prepare to go out all guns blazing against Hawick Royal Albert in the Scottish Cup preliminary round on Saturday.
The journey non-stop would take five-and-a-half hours each way, but the North Caledonian League champions are breaking it up by using Dunfermline at their overnight base.
It's set to be a busy Saturday of Scottish Cup action, with all eleven Preliminary Round fixtures kicking off at 3pm.
— Scottish Cup (@ScottishCup) August 25, 2021
Their manager Sam Mackay knows all about epic trips in the Scottish Cup from his time at Wick Academy and he believes they can use the road time in the best possible way.
He said: “We’re going as far as Dunfermline on Friday. Given the distance, it would be impossible to go down on the Saturday. It’s a huge trip.
“It leaves us a wee bit short in terms of boys working on Friday, but we still have a good squad, so we’re looking forward to it.
“The good thing is you can get everyone together and get a bit of team bonding. Having been on these types of trips with Wick, it has helped us massively to stay down somewhere ahead of the game.”
Toiling hosts against NCL champions
Hosts Hawick have won once and lost eight as they are rooted to the foot of East of Scotland First Division Conference B.
Mackay plans to focus on his own players’ strength going into this tie.
He added: “We know about their form and have snippets on them, so we have done a bit of homework, but we will worry about our own game.
“We’d love to get into the first round proper. We’re one of the top teams in our own league, so we’ll focus on our game and hopefully get the win.”
Eight-goal epic on opening afternoon
In their league opener on Saturday, Golspie led 2-1 and trailed 4-2 on their way to a thrilling 4-4 draw with visitors Inverness Athletic.
Mackay had mixed feelings about the outcome in a match where it was 0-0 until almost an hour.
He said: “We cancelled one another out in the first half and it came alive in the second half.
“We had 11 players missing overall, but we still had a strong 11, so that’s no excuse. Individual errors cost us goals.
“It could be looked at as two points dropped because we were 2-1 up, but after going 4-2 down through our mistakes we responded well to get the point.
“Credit to Inverness. They were a good, young outfit and I think they’ll do well this season. I’ll be interested to see how they fare this season – they’ll definitely take points off teams.”
Bremner off mark with treble
Liam Bremner bagged a hat-trick for Golspie, while on-loan Clach ace Thomas Lewis scored three for Athletic, with Shaun Urquhart (Golspie) and Kieran Duffty (Inverness) were also on the scoresheet.
Speaking about his own hot-shot, Mackay added: “Liam certainly knows where the goals are. He was top scorer last season, so hopefully he’ll continue that form.
“He’s keen, always there and fully committed. His attitude has been first class throughout pre-season.”
On Saturday, St Duthus will be seeking to bounce back from the opening day North Caledonian League defeat at Nairn County reserves.
The Tain team led then trailed in a superb contest at the Riverside last weekend before a last-gasp Logan Hallam goal gave the hosts a 3-2 victory.
Saints start their home campaign against Halkirk, who are top of the pack after a fine 3-0 victory over Thurso.
— Nairn County FC (@NairnCounty) August 23, 2021
Inverness Athletic will look to build upon that pulsating point gained in Golspie as they take on Orkney in their new home venue of Ardersier.
Sides seek to build up early form
Invergordon, who edged out derby rivals Alness 3-2 on Saturday, are home to Orkney, who get their season started.
Alness will be hot favourites to get three points on the board when they host Bonar Bridge, who were idle last week after Scourie withdrew from the league due to lack of player commitment.
Loch Ness, champions of the Inverness Amateur Premier Division this summer, play their first fixture when they go to Thurso, who will be after a reaction following that sore defeat at Halkirk.
Our first trip up to Thurso, let’s make it one to remember!
— Loch Ness Football Club (@LochNessFC) August 18, 2021