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Elgin City striker Kane Hester eyes scoring repeat against Hibs youngsters in cup clash

Elgin City striker Kane Hester.
Elgin City striker Kane Hester.

Elgin City striker Kane Hester bagged seven goals on the way to the quarter-finals of the SPFL Trust Trophy two years ago.

And, ahead of facing the same opening round opponents – Hibs under-21s – tonight, the City marksman is relishing the chance to mix it with a different type of opponent.

The Premiership clubs all have their younger players involved in Challenge Cup, alongside teams from the Championship, Leagues One and Two, and the Highland and Lowland Leagues, meaning the competition produces a variety of fixtures.

In 2019/20, the Black and Whites put together an incredible set of results when the competition was played under the name of the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup, before Covid postponed play for one year.

City began that edition with a thrilling 4-3 victory against Hibs in round one before seeing off Brechin City 5-4, Dundee 2-1 and Airdrieonians 2-0 – all away from home.

Elgin were eventually beaten 3-2 in the quarter-finals by Raith Rovers in Kirkcaldy, who reached the final that year against Caley Thistle.

The final was never played due to the pandemic and ICT and Rovers now jointly share the silverware.

City seek lift after league losses

The Moray team, who lost 3-1 at Cowdenbeath in League Two at the weekend, are seeking to put a fresh promotion bid at the top of their agenda this season.

They began with a 1-1 draw at home to Stranraer a fortnight ago and are at home to third-placed Albion Rovers this weekend.

However, a trip to Christie Gillies Park in Edinburgh is next up and Hester, with two goals to his name already this season, is keen to turn the heat on the young Hibees, who he netted twice against last time.

Hester, who has netted 19 goals in each of the last of the two seasons, said: “I did well in that competition two years ago, so hopefully it will be more of the same.

Elgin City striker Kane Hester celebrates after scoring the opener against Dundee United in a 6-1 Premier Sports Cup defeat at Tannadice last month.

“It was a good competition. I remember scoring three away to Brechin and we got far. Our main focus is the league, but we’ll give our full attention on the tie on Tuesday right now.

“Hibs will be looking to catch their manager’s eye. They will probably be around our level, given the age they are at. It will be a hard one for us, because they’ll be out to impress. We’ll have to match them, just like we did last time.

“After drawing and losing our first two league games, it’s been a difficult start for us.

“After not starting as well as we have done in previous years, it’s good for us to get a different challenge against a different team. We can maybe try some different tactics and see what works for us.”

Hester hasn’t forgotten being edged out by Raith Rovers in the last playing of the Challenge Cup and he feels these kinds of contests are great experiences for him as a forward looking to ask questions.

He added: “It’s a different calibre of opposition at times in this cup, so it’s one to look forward to. The higher you go, the less physical it is and that suits me a lot.

“When we played Raith, it was on their big park and maybe they were too much for us technically, but we definitely competed and hopefully we’ll do the same again, starting against Hibs.”

Penalties put Elgin up against it

On Saturday, Elgin were up against it after Cowdenbeath’s Liam Buchanan scored two penalties within the first 25 minutes.

City rallied and Darryl McHardy pounced to make it 2-1 after 36 minutes, which was the central defender’s second successive goal.

Elgin hot-shot Hester was denied by home keeper Cameron Gill as they almost levelled, before Daniel Hoban denied Buchanan at the other end.

The Blue Brazil wrapped the tie up with nine minutes left when Buchanan fed the ball on to substitute Luke Mahady, whose introduction was a timely one for the hosts.

Elgin City manager Gavin Price.

Manager Gavin Price felt his players responded well to the early set-backs, but they have to ensure they’re not doing the chasing.

He said: “We probably got what we deserved from the game, if we look at it objectively. We can’t just play in spells in game.

“We played in spells against Stranraer and looked really good in those spells and we did it again on Saturday.

“We’ll need to piece things together for 90 minutes. If we don’t start doing that then we’re not going to pick up the points we’re hoping to get.”

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