Derek Riddel keeps faith despite Leith’s player shortage

Derek Riddel takes his Leith Athletic side to Cumbernauld tonight in the Scottish Cup. Pic: TSPL
Derek Riddel takes his Leith Athletic side to Cumbernauld tonight in the Scottish Cup. Pic: TSPL
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Leith Athletic boss Derek Riddel admits he’s facing a serious player shortage ahead of tonight’s William Hill Scottish Cup first-round replay against Cumbernauld Colts.

The East of Scotland champions travel to Broadwood following a 0-0 draw in the initial tie at Spartans’ Ainslie Park last month.

With midfielder Kerr Allan already suspended following his straight red card towards the end of that game, a combination of injuries and holidays has reduced Riddel’s squad to something approaching the bare bones, the most serious of which being Taylor Black’s broken leg sustained in the 8-2 weekend win over Coldstream.

“That was disappointing and put a real damper on the weekend,” said Riddel of the right back’s injury. “We actually lost him and Steven Glynn, our centre-half, through injury and to be honest we’re absolutely struggling for bodies for the game tonight. It’s not looking good for us. We’ve definitely got 14 to travel through but it’s just unfortunate that we’ve picked up a couple of knocks, there’s two guys away on holiday and one guy is working and can’t get it off at all.”

Riddel said after the first game he wanted a more positive approach from his players from the first whistle this time around. While the personnel available may necessitate tweaking that approach, Athletic will still be going all out to win the tie. “We’re still going through there confident enough that we can win the game,” he affirmed. “I think our performance last time showed that we’re capable of matching Cumbernauld, especially in the second half, so we’re looking to start positively. We’ll be going through to try and win the game in normal time, but if it takes extra-time and penalties then so be it.”

Despite his options being severely depleted, does Riddel believes the occasion of a 
Scottish Cup tie can bring more out of the his players?

“Of course,” he replied. “I think that’s been recognised throughout the course of the season in the games we’ve played in the Scottish Cup so far.

“There’s a different feel to the game and that’s no disrespect to the East of Scotland League, but there just seems to be that atmosphere when you’re approaching the game, the build up and then the game itself. There’s a different buzz about the changing room.”