Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley needs no warning about the threat of Brora Rangers.
Former Highland League rivalries will be renewed tonight as Cove travel to their former league rivals Brora with a trip to Kilmarnock in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup at stake.
For some of the Cove players, the trip to Dudgeon Park will be a new experience – but Hartley knows exactly what to expect against the Cattachs after edging a penalty shoot-out following a 2-2 draw when the sides last met in October 2020.
He said: “We’ve been up to Brora before in the League Cup in 2020 and had a good result.
“It’ll be a tough game. The two clubs were rivals in the past and the players who have been here a long time know all about them and how tough it is up there to get a result.
“It’s the Scottish Cup and as ever in this competition it’s all about getting though the tie.”
Brora have cup pedigree
The national cup competition has been good to Brora in recent years with the Highland League side recording a shock 2-1 win against Hearts in the Scottish Cup in March 2021, just five months after Cove last visited.
With the tie postponed twice and Brora forced to change to a neutral venue at Golspie for their league win over Keith on Saturday, Hartley knows the surface at Dudgeon Park will add to the challenge tonight.
Hartley said: “Brora have a cup pedigree, too, so we don’t underestimate them at all.
“They sent shockwaves throughout football with their result against Hearts, but we always respect the opposition.
“The pitch will be tricky and it’s all about your attitude in your games.
“We know they will be up for it and we want to make sure we are in the next round.
“That’s what cup football is all about.”
Researching Brora has been difficult
Scouting Ally MacDonald’s side has not been an easy task for Cove, with a series of postponements meaning Brora’s 2-2 draw against Inverurie Locos at Harlaw Park on January 13 was the club’s first game since December 16.
Hartley knows Brora’s lowly ninth-place position in the Highland League does not reflect their quality, however.
He said: “We know they haven’t played a lot of football recently, but they’re a good side.
“I had hoped to watch them, but a lot of their games have been postponed. We had them watched at Inverurie earlier this month.
“We go back a long way and Brora have been up near the top for a good few years now. They have a lot of games in hand and have only lost one game in their league.
“I’ve spoken to a few people in the Highland League about their style and we know they are a good passing team.”
Michael Doyle returns from suspension after missing Saturday’s 2-0 defeat by Queen of the South at Balmoral Stadium.
Mitch Megginson is expected to return, despite being withdrawn at half-time due to an eye injury.