Brora Rangers attacker Andrew Macrae is relishing another crack at trying to defy the odds in the Premier Sports Cup.
The Cattachs have been drawn in Group D alongside Highland neighbours Ross County, Dundee, Forfar Athletic and Montrose.
Steven Mackay’s side gave a good account of themselves in the competition last season and almost picked up a shock result at Hibernian before eventually succumbing to a 3-1 defeat.
They finished fourth in their five-team group after a 2-0 home defeat against Dundee and penalty shootout defeats against Cove Rangers and Forfar Athletic.
🏆 The #PremierSportsCup group stage draw has been concluded.
Full draw results below 👇 pic.twitter.com/jQWwcvb2ju
— SPFL (@spfl) May 28, 2021
Macrae believes it is an exciting draw for his side.
He said: “It looks like a good group.
“I hope we get Dundee away as I have played at Ross County before so it would be good to get a game at Dens Park.
“I have been on the bench at Dundee for Caley Thistle but I never got on.
“We really enjoyed the competition last season.
“It was a good experience to play against Hibs at Easter Road.
“I’ll remember that for the rest of my days. It wasn’t like we got smashed, we played well in that game.
“We were only 2-1 down with five minutes to go.
“It will be good to use it as pre-season games and it can only benefit us going into the new Highland League season.”
Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley.Cove Rangers boss Paul Hartley is hopeful his players get to experience a big crowd at Tynecastle after being drawn against his former side Hearts.
Hartley spent four years with the Jambos as a player and will face them again after yesterday’s draw, which will also see Caley Thistle, Peterhead and Stirling Albion complete Group A.
Cove missed out on getting crowds into games against Premiership opposition this season, facing Hibernian at the Balmoral Stadium and Rangers at Ibrox. However with the return of crowds for the play-off games, there is optimism of making them a more permanent fixture once the new season begins.
Hartley said: “It’s a good draw. The one that stands out for me obviously is Hearts, as a former player. I’m delighted getting them and hopefully it’s away from home.
“Hearts have a special place in my heart, being there for four years. I’ll be delighted to go down there or if they’re coming up to us.
“It’s the games you want to be involved in – players want to test themselves. It’d be nice for our players if there’s a crowd as if there’s a full house or whatever at Tynecastle, it’s one of the best atmospheres in Scotland.
“We missed out on that this season, against Rangers and Hibs we managed to not get any fans in both games.”
Peterhead manager Jim McInallyPeterhead boss Jim McInally said: “It couldn’t really get much harder, but they are good games, wherever we’re playing.
“Even if we’re away from home, Cove are on doorstep, if we get to go to Tynecastle that would be brilliant and so would Inverness.
“This cup is tough for the smaller teams, but for us it’s just a case of trying to do what we’ve done in the past and spring a couple of surprises.
“We’ve beaten Hearts (2-1 in 2017) and Inverness (11-10 on penalties in 2019), but that means we’ll have the respect of those teams which won’t make it any easier.
“We know how good a team Cove are and then Stirling Albion are possibly the team to beat in League Two next season so every game is a big test.”
PREMIER SPORTS CUP
We are in group B of the draw.
Times and Dates TBC in due course.
— Elgin City F.C. (@ElginCityFC) May 28, 2021
Elgin City are in Group B with Dundee United, Arbroath, East Fife, Elgin City and SPFL new boys Kelty Hearts.
The Borough Briggs men finished third in their group last term with two wins from their four group games.
Elgin boss Gavin Price said: “It feels we have drawn Arbroath every year.
“We have four part-time teams in our group which was the same as the last two years.
“We took it to the final game both those years.
“It is really part of our pre-season plan but it’s enjoyable to play against different teams and I’m sure the players are looking forward to it.”
Price was also looking forward to facing their new League Two rivals Kelty Hearts, who will be managed by former Rangers and Hibernian midfielder Kevin Thomson following the departure of Barry Ferguson.
Price said: “We won’t read too much into it because it will be early in the season but it will be good to see where they are.
“It will be a challenging group with a team from every league.
“We haven’t played Dundee United for a few seasons so I’m sure the players will be looking forward to that one.”