Holders Leith Athletic face Heriot-Watt University at Meadowbank tomorrow in the Alex Jack Cup semi-finals, with manager Derek Riddel looking forward to the challenge of coming up against a familiar foe.
The students were relegated to the First Division on the final day of last season but were involved in some close encounters with Athletic last term with two draws and three defeats from five encounters.
“I know Chris Smith very well and coming to Meadowbank won’t faze them. We had them watched against Ormiston last week and they’ve made a solid enough start in the First Division,” said Riddel.
Athletic are aiming to win the trophy for the third consecutive season with victories over Craigroyston and Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale in the last two finals. They have a full squad available, with striker Jamie Lauder returning to the fold after he missed last week’s 3-1 win over Easthouses.
Heriot-Watt, meanwhile, have been searching this week for an emergency goalkeeper to fill the boots of regular No.1 Craig Saunders who is unavailable for tomorrow’s match.
Coach Chris Smith may have to draft in a back-up from the uni’s amateur or Under-20 sides, but has also made contact with an unnamed Lowland League side over the availability of a goalkeeper for tomorrow.
“I’ve had to make a lot of calls this week because of Craig’s absence so it’s given us a bit of a dilemma, but we’ll get on with it and give it our best shot,” said Smith.
“It’s a semi-final and both teams will want to win it so that is enough motivation for the players.
“Derek always aims to play the game in the right spirit and so do we, so I think it should be a really good game.”
In the other semi-final, Tynecastle host Peebles Rovers at Fernieside Park.
Manager Stephen McKenzie is missing left-back Kyle Fee as he limped off with a foot injury in last weekend’s 7-1 demolition of Spartans EOS.
Dean Cummings and Gary Bennett will also miss the game due to other commitments, but Tony Muir and Gary Jardine return to the side for the meeting with the First Division league leaders.
Tynecastle are undefeated in their last five matches and McKenzie will be looking for Tynie to continue that run tomorrow with a place in next month’s final at stake.