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Jordan Macrae targets cup goals and points as Brora Rangers prepare for Highland League title defence

Jordan MacRae.
Jordan MacRae.

Brora Rangers striker Jordan Macrae insists tough Premier Sports Cup tests will whip them into shape for the start of the Highland League next weekend.

Covid in the camp then a complete lack of pre-season games was hardly the ideal preparation for the Highland League champions ahead of the new campaign.

Their involvement in the League Cup began last Saturday with a 3-0 defeat at impressive League One side Montrose.

Then, on Tuesday, they dug deep in the second half especially to stem the flow in a 4-0 defeat away to newly-promoted Premiership team Dundee, who had two-goal Paul McMullan at the heart of their incisive play.

Brora Rangers’ Tom Kelly and Dundee’s Jordan Marshall compete for the ball in Tuesday’s Dens Park clash.

Tough start for Brora in Group C

This Saturday, Brora welcome League Two Forfar Athletic to Dudgeon Park before they round off their cup games next Wednesday against Malky Mackay’s Ross County.

It’s been a tough Group C section for the Highland League’s best team and they won’t be progressing to the knockout stages.

The start of the league season is fast approaching, with an opener next Saturday for Brora away to Deveronvale, before a home match against fancied Rothes on July 31 and an August 7 showdown at Fraserburgh.

Paul McGowan scores to make it 1-0 Dundee against Brora Rangers on Tuesday night at Dens Park.

Macrae, who scored the opener in the famous 2-1 Scottish Cup triumph over Hearts in March, reckons the strong opposition they have faced will actually prove to be beneficial ahead of the league kicking off.

He said: “We’ve been playing against better sides in this cup than we will be playing against week in, week 0ut.

“It will only help us get better. Hopefully we can do what the likes of Dundee and Montrose have done to us against teams in the Highland League.

Brora Rangers manager Steven Mackay makes his point in the game against Dundee.

“We’re obviously not expecting to go through in the cup now, but if we can pick up points here or there and hopefully score against Forfar, it would be nice.

“We’ve had boys miss training in the build-up, including myself, because of Covid and isolation. We’re just keen to get up and running again.”

Since that victory over Hearts, it’s been a tough slog for Brora, with a 6-1 aggregate play-off defeat to Kelty Hearts and this tricky opening to the campaign following the impact of Covid.

Macrae stressed: “It’s certainly gone downhill for us since that Hearts game, but we’ve got a great squad and I know fine well that we can bounce back.

“We want to progress and win the league again and hopefully go one step further by winning the promotion play-off next year.”

Brora target points at home

Forfar, who earned three points from Ross County forfeiting their game due to Covid last weekend, added another two in midweek by beating Montrose 5-4 on penalties after a goalless 90 minutes.

That outcome took Forfar top of the pack, with County’s game Dundee this Sunday off due to Covid lingering at the Dingwall club.

As Brora look to get points on the board against the Loons, Macrae senses a chance to get up and running, at least with a goal or more, against a side they lost to on penalties last year after a share of the spoils.

He added: “We think this is a chance for us. We were hard done by in our game against them last season when we felt we should have won.

“We gave away a penalty in the last five minutes and that cost us. We’ll be going out to try and get the victory, which we’ve not had so far. Hopefully we can score and get a result to get something on the board.”

Macrae impressed by rampant Dark Blues

Looking back to Tuesday’s 4-0 defeat at Dens, Macrae, who came off the bench, admitted: “We went into that game expecting exactly what happened, to be honest.

“It was mainly just a fitness exercise for us, another chance to get a feel of the ball.

“There was a fair difference in Dundee from 12 months ago when we played them at Brora (in a 2-0 defeat). They are sharper and hungrier.”