Cove Rangers will put all thoughts of an all Highland League meeting away to Fraserburgh well to one side this Saturday when they travel to Ayrshire for their Scottish Cup 2nd Round replay with Auchinleck Talbot.
The Highland League champions faced arguably their stiffest test of the competitive season so far when they were held to a 1-1 draw in Aberdeen by the Scottish Junior Cup holders who travelled north with a massive vocal support.
Experience will be vital at what is expected to be a hostile atmosphere at Beechwood Park but it is a task captain Eric Watson and his team mates will look forward to.
He said: “They are a very good side, strong and physical with a lot of aerial power. It is obvious to see they are a well organised club who have spent money to bring in quality players.
“We will be prepared to stand up to the challenges facing us, there may be a feeling within their camp the difficult part of the job has been done and they can finish the job on the day. If that’s the case we can take advantage.
“I did feel we just about did enough to win it at first go and that all we really lacked was a bit of freshness up front, something we were without because of key players being unavailable.”
The major talking point of the tie was midway through the second half when referee Chris Fordyce awarded a controversial penalty after Ross Harvey’s hard hit shot hit the hand of Watson only a few yards away.
The big No 5 protested the decision but to no avail as centre forward Graham Wilson sent stand in goalkeeper John McCafferty the wrong way: “The referee would not listen to the complaint and I also wanted action against one of their forwards for a blatant drive that could have led to a second spot kick award. But the main thing is we are still in the competition.”
Wilson is the ‘Bot’s top scorer this season on 12 goals and refuses to consider any suggestion his team should now be considered favourites to go through to play at Bellslea.
He said: “Of course we are looking to finish the job but we can see why Cove are League champions and well in front again this campaign as they have quality players who pass the ball well.
“They are obviously a better team than Banks O’Dee who we knocked out in the preliminary round at home and like in this tie, our supporters played a big role when we overcame Wick Academy away.
“Our form is really good, we’ve only lost one game in the League. We are falling behind in our bread and butter games but are not concerned as we want to stay in the Scottish Cup as long as possible and keep the defence of the Junior Cup going as well.”
Cove boss John Sheran will have Harry Milne free from suspension this Saturday and is hopeful Ryan Strachan, on the bench but not fully fit, will also come into consideration. Goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie and forwards Daniel Park and Jordan MacRae will also be in the frame but Paul McManus again misses out.