Bo’ness United midfielder Nicky Walker is hoping it will be third time lucky for the Newtown Park men as they bid to reach the fourth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup for the first time.
The BUs host League 2 side Elgin City in their third round replay tomorrow for the chance to face Arbroath in the next round after fighting back from 3-0 down to draw 4-4 at Elgin’s Borough Briggs last weekend.
After suffering defeat in their only two previous third-round ties at home to Cowdenbeath and Buckie Thistle, Walker, in his sixth season with the club, is eager to make history.
Recalling the 3-0 defeat at home to Cowdenbeath in November 2011, Walker insists it is important that they don’t get anyone sent-off after Ryan Scanlon and Stuart Hunter were red carded in that loss.
He said: “We got a guy sent off early doors and it was an uphill struggle from then on, to be honest. It was really disappointing because we weren’t able to show what we could really do and I think that’s why it is always important to keep 11 men on the park.
“These types of games don’t come around very often, especially with the hoops we have to jump through to get there in terms of winning the league, whereas lower league teams automatically go straight into it. It’s all about making the most of it once you are there.”
Walker was instrumental in the Super League champions’ revival in last weekend’s eight-goal thriller. After coming on at half-time alongside Kieran Anderson, when Elgin were 3-0 up and cruising, the forward-thinking pair got the BUs back on track.
After deploying a 4-5-1 in the first half, manager Allan McGonigal converted to their familiar 4-3-3 and it paid dividends as they utilised their attacking strengths.
Walker, who got two of Bo’ness’s four goals in the second half, felt his side gave Elgin too much respect in the opening period and was delighted to see a change in approach after the interval.
“Kieran and I could see from the bench in the first half that we had got our tactics wrong and we were maybe giving them a bit too much respect,” he said. “In my view we changed our tactics too much to suit them rather than us just playing our usual game, which does well on any other Saturday.
“It wasn’t working, they were getting far too much time on the ball at the back and our midfield was basically sitting on top of our defence. Fair play to them, they took advantage of it and got a few goals going into half-time.
“The dressing-room was pretty deflated at half-time compared to what we are used to on a match day. We were just told to play to our strengths in the second half and fortunately for us Elgin couldn’t really handle it.”
The team bus breaking down near Perth on the three and a half hour journey home did nothing to dampen their spirits, with the Bo’ness players leaving the Highlands with what felt like a victory after staring at a heavy defeat.
“The boys were all delighted. The ones that played in the first half had almost resigned themselves to damage limitation, so to get the draw in the end did feel like a win,” said Walker.
The tables are turned tomorrow afternoon as Elgin make the long journey south to Newtown Park, where they will encounter a vociferous home crowd as they make their way out the tunnel of the old stand.
Walker was impressed by the number of Bo’ness supporters who made their way north last weekend and is expecting a bumper crowd tomorrow afternoon.
“It’ll be a big boost for us to have our home support,” he said. “Even up in Elgin there must have been a good 300-400 Bo’ness fans – it’s great to have that backing all the way up there. I can maybe see there being 800 Bo’ness fans alone tomorrow, if not more. It does make a big difference to the boys having that support behind you.”
Bo’ness left-back Stewart Devine is still missing with a hamstring injury, while forward Darren Gribben and goalkeeper Mark Peat are doubtful.