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Duncan Shearer: Aberdeen’s Scottish Cup road to redemption starts this week

Dons will be aiming to move on from their humiliating exit to Darvel last season when they face League Two strugglers Clyde on Friday.

Aberdeen's Jamie McGrath (right) celebrates with team mate Graeme Shinnie after scoring to make it 1-0 against Ross County. Image: SNS
Aberdeen's Jamie McGrath (right) celebrates with team-mate Graeme Shinnie after scoring to make it 1-0 against Ross County. Image: SNS.

It is hard to mention Aberdeen and the Scottish Cup and not add in the word Darvel. But the Dons have the power to change the narrative this week.

The West of Scotland club’s name has been tied to Aberdeen for years to come following their incredible win against the Premiership side in the fourth round a year ago.

As the Dons return to the competition on Friday, they must lay down a marker by showing they are back in business and have moved on from that dark day.

Darvel celebrate a famous win against Aberdeen back in January 2023. Image: SNS.

It was a fiasco last season, pure and simple – but it should have given the Reds added motivation ahead of their game at Clyde on Friday.

Ian McCall is a wily veteran who will have his Bully Wee outfit well drilled.

However, he has bigger fish to fry this season in keeping his club in League Two.

Clyde are five points adrift at the bottom of the division and McCall is in the process of overhauling his squad this month ahead of the fight for survival in the second half of the season.

Peterhead’s Conor O’Keefe gets away from Clyde’s Ross Lyon. Image: Duncan Brwn.

But Aberdeen are a Premiership club who have played in Europe this season and have aspirations of being back in Europe next season.

They have to go to New Douglas Park and show that gulf by putting on a performance.

Dons looking to carry on where they left off

Barry Robson will be demanding his players carry on where they left off at Ross County on January 2.

I was at Victoria Park and it was an excellent display from the Dons, who dominated from the first minute to the last in a resounding 3-0 win against the Staggies.

An Aberdeen team rested after a busy schedule, and with a point to prove after last season’s debacle, should be adding up to a difficult evening ahead for the team propping up the fourth tier.

As much as cup ties are all about winning, I’d be hugely disappointed if the Dons do not run out comfortable winners on Friday.

The Scottish Cup is a competition which should be a priority for Aberdeen.

We know no team outside Celtic or Rangers is winning the Premiership anytime in the near future.

As a result, the cup competitions are the best chance of silverware.

The Dons reached one cup final and they should be aiming to reach another.

Highland hat-trick of Scottish Cup ties

I’m spoiled for choice in the Highlands this weekend with three terrific fourth round ties taking place.

Billy Mckay remains a pivotal figure for Caley Thistle. Image: SNS.

I’ve decided to go to Caledonian Stadium for the meeting of Caley Thistle and Broomhill, and I’m hoping I will see a bit more from my old club than they showed me in Friday’s 1-0 defeat by Dundee United.

They looked cagey, almost hesitant to go forward at times and the number of sideways passes being played was frustrating to watch.

Inverness are lacking a number 10, someone to drop off and play between the lines.

With no link-up player there, it was a real struggle for the Caley Jags midfielders on Friday to the extent Billy Mckay was dropping in there.

Is that where I want to watch Billy playing? No, it’s not. He can make the biggest impact in and around the box.

It has been a week of change at the club with several players moving on and it is clear Duncan Ferguson is clearing the decks ahead of some new faces coming on board.

I know Duncan has good contacts in England and is well liked by his colleagues down south, so I’m expecting him to tap into his connections for reinforcements before the window closes.

The first of those was James Carragher, who joined on loan last week.

He made his debut on Friday and I was impressed by what I saw. He looks composed on the ball and will be a very good acquisition.

In the meantime, Duncan will be trying to get the most out of the squad he has at the minute, and while Broomhill have nothing to lose, I expect Caley Thistle to go through.

Ross County response needed

Ross Laidlaw celebrates Ross County’s play-off victory over Partick Thistle in May. The Staggies’ number one saved two shoot-out spot-kicks to help defeat the Jags. Image: SNS.

The toughest tie to call is Ross County’s tie against Partick Thistle.

If we get a repeat of the chaos which was the second leg of the promotion play-off in May then we’re in for a treat.

But if County let Partick do what they want, then it could be a long afternoon for Derek Adams’ side.

The Jags are going well in the Championship and they carry a real goal threat.

The Staggies were so poor in their last league game against Aberdeen – and have to respond.

I expect this one to be tight, but on the basis of home advantage I think County should progress.

Rounding off the Highland games is an intriguing encounter between Brora Rangers and Cove Rangers.

The meeting of the former Highland League rivals is interesting, and Brora are certainly capable at home – as Hearts found to their cost a few years ago.

But Cove’s Highland League experience should ensure there are no surprises in this one. They’ve been to Dudgeon Park and know what to expect.

Buckie Thistle’s big day out v Celtic

Buckie boss Graeme Stewart. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson.

It will be a proud day for Buckie Thistle as their long wait to play one of the biggest games in their history – a Scottish Cup fourth round away to holders Celtic – is almost over.

It’s a fantastic draw for Buckie – but I hope they treat their trip to Glasgow as more than a big day out.

Enjoying the occasion is for the fans. There’s a game to prepare for and knowing Graeme Stewart as I do, I’ve no doubt he’ll be wanting his players to give a good account of themselves.

I’m not foolish enough to predict an upset, though.

Caley Thistle famously went ballistic in 2000 – but it was a very good Inverness team catching a Celtic team in disarray at the right time.

It’s anything but that scenario for Buckie.

They know they will have long periods without the ball, but when they do have possession they have to make it count.

That’s all the manager and fans can ask for and I wish the Jags the very best of luck.