Formartine United goalkeeper Kevin Main is delighted his club’s triple pre-season preparations will be rewarded with a glamour Scottish Cup tie against Motherwell next weekend.
Main emerged as the cup hero after making two saves in his side’s penalty shootout victory against Annan Athletic at North Lodge Park on Tuesday – on his 39th birthday no less – and the United goalkeeper says a third round tie against Premiership opposition is just reward for everyone at the Highland League club.
He said: “It’s been a tough year. We’ve basically done three pre-season campaigns in it. We worked through the summer, then again in October and now we’ve just done another one in the last fortnight.
“It was a big part of our build-up to the Annan game. We spoke amongst ourselves about how difficult this season has been and we agreed, if the Highland League doesn’t return, then we had to make sure all the hard work did not go to waste.
“For goalkeepers, penalty shootouts are easier to handle than for players. It’s a lottery really, but I was disappointed it even went to penalties as we should have been out of sight.
“We hit the post and had the better chances throughout, but we just couldn’t put them away.
“We knew we had the carrot of playing Motherwell at home and we’re delighted to have that game to look forward to.”
It has been a season unlike any other, but it has been especially taxing on the part-time players and it is clear the timescale put in place for clubs to return from their enforced hibernation has been far from ideal.
January 2 was the last time Formartine had played a competitive game prior to Tuesday’s cup tie – exactly 80 days.
Main said: “It has been a long 80 days, I can tell you that. Like everyone else we were in the dark while the Premiership and Championship clubs had been playing.
“We’ve been keeping fit by ourselves and we’ve had sessions to follow on Strava, but there is a huge difference between general fitness and match fitness.
“Since the news came that we had two weeks to get ready, we have had four sessions and a friendly against Huntly to prepare which is not ideal.”
There has been no Highland League action since January 2, but the league has been firmly in the spotlight this week following champions Brora Rangers’ stunning upset win against Championship leaders Hearts.
Main would love to see his club follow suit by taking a Premiership scalp, but the veteran knows several factors need to go his side’s way for a shock to take place at North Lodge Park next weekend.
He said: “The Brora result against Hearts is brilliant for them and for the Highland League in general, but we know we need Motherwell to have a really bad day while we have a really good day. Even then it is still going to be really tough.
“In games like this against full-time teams, it all about breaking the match into quarters. Try to get through each one and, if you get a chance, make sure you take it. But it’s one we’re all excited about.”
Main’s penalty-saving exploits came at a cost, but he expects to be fit for the big game.
He said: “I missed training on Thursday due to hurting my groin and I won’t be able to take part in training on Saturday, but I’ll still be there to have my Covid test done ahead of the cup tie.”