Bo’ness United’s Ross Philp will return to familiar surroundings when they take on his former club Kelty Hearts in the Junior Cup third round tomorrow afternoon.
Philp swapped Central Park for Newtown Park in the summer to join up with the Super League champions, but it is his former club who look more likely to win the title this season.
Kelty have turned their fortunes around after winning their relegation play-off with Dalkeith Thistle to preserve their Super League status – they now occupy first spot and, with a game in hand over second-placed Newtongrange, who are two points behind, they will take some budging.
“To get them in the cup was a wee surprise,” said Philp, who had been anticipating the first league fixture between the two sides.
“It’ll be good to go back and I’m looking forward to it.
“It’ll be a tough game, especially with the fact it’s away from home. They are a big strong team – especially at the back – and they aren’t conceding many goals, while they seem to be scoring quite a lot.
“I’ve had a few texts with some of the Kelty players. We’ve been winding each other up, but it’s all a good laugh.”
Bo’ness lost out at the quarter-final stage of the Junior Cup last season in a 1-0 loss away to Irvine Meadow, and Philp, who admits they face a tough ask to retain their title with Kelty 12 points ahead, believes it is important that they make it through.
“With the way that the league is going, we obviously want to stay in the cup for as long as we can,” he said.
“They were disappointed with the stage they went out last season, so obviously we’ll be trying to push on from that. If you want to win it, you need to beat the best teams anyway, so it shouldn’t matter what round you get them.
“If we start off on the front foot and hopefully go ahead, I’d be confident that we’d be able to keep the lead. Any games we have gone in front we’ve been able to build on that lead or hold onto what we’ve got. “
Bo’ness will be without left-back Stewart Devine, who is on holiday, while Nicky Walker didn’t train on Monday and will be assessed before tomorrow.