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‘Bellslea will be difficult, WHOEVER we play’ – Highland League bosses react to Premier Sports Cup draw

Fraserburgh manager Mark Cowie, left, and Buckie Thistle boss Graeme Stewart
Fraserburgh manager Mark Cowie, left, and Buckie Thistle boss Graeme Stewart

Fraserburgh manager Mark Cowie is relishing their first crack at the Premier Sports Cup.

The Breedon Highland League champions have been drawn in Group B alongside Premiership Kilmarnock, Partick Thistle of the Championship, League One outfit Montrose and Stenhousemuir of League Two.

It will be the first time the Broch have played in the League Cup, and Cowie said: “We’re delighted to be in the competition, regardless of who we’re up against it’s great to be in it.

“With the seeding you’re guaranteed to play a big club and we’ve got Kilmarnock, who are on a high after returning to the Premiership, and Derek McInnes is a big name in Scottish football.

“It’s win-win for us. We get to compete against the best the country’s got to offer  outwith the sides that are in Europe.

Derek McInnes’ Kilmarnock side will face Fraserburgh in the Premier Sports Cup.

“It’s something new for our players and they probably haven’t had a pre-season schedule quite like this.

“Normally it’s a mixture of one or two sides from a higher level and some Junior teams.

“We probably won’t be expected to get results, but we know what we’re capable of.

“It’s a free hit for us, the away games might be a bit tougher, but the ones at Bellslea will be difficult for whoever we play.

“We’re delighted to be part of it after the campaign we had winning the league. Getting invited to play in a competition like this is brilliant.”

Jags up for the cup

Buckie Thistle are also in the competition after an extra place was granted to the Highland League as a result of five Scottish clubs qualifying for Europe.

The Jags are in Group C and will tackle Ross County (Premiership), Dunfermline Athletic, Alloa Athletic (both League One) and East Fife (League Two).

The Moray side featured in the League Cup in 2017 and boss Graeme Stewart is pleased to be in it once again.

He added: “It’s exciting for us. We’re fortunate to be in it, because we didn’t win the Highland League.

“We’ll use it as part of our pre-season preparation. The last time we were in it we played the same guys trying to get results, rather than treating it as a pre-season tournament.

Jack Murray, left, is one of the former Ross County players in Buckie Thistle’s squad.

“We’ll use the whole squad and everyone will get an opportunity to play in these big games.

“It’s great for the club to have four games against SPFL sides.

“We’ve got a few ex-Ross County players: Jack Murray, Sam Morrison, Tom MacLennan, Lee Herbert and Marcus Goodall.

“There’s a lot of connections between Buckie and Ross County and I’m sure the boys will be buzzing for that game.

“It would be good to play them at home, but even still getting the chance to play at a Premiership ground would be great as well.”

When are the games?

Fixtures are still be finalised, but will be played over the weekends of July 9/10, 16/17 and 23/24 and midweeks July 12/13 and 19/20.

The eight group winners and three best runners-up will join Scotland’s European representatives – Celtic, Rangers, Hearts, Dundee United and Motherwell – in the last 16.

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