If recent evidence is anything to go buy, the smart money tonight will be on Forfar and Edinburgh City going beyond the regulation 90 minutes in their William Hill Scottish Cup second round replay.
The sides face each other for the third time in ten days – their fourth encounter overall this season – to determine who will progress to play League One East Fife at New Bayview on the 26th of this month.
Just one goal has been the difference between the two teams over 360 minutes, The Loons leaving Meadowbank with a 3-2 victory on the opening day of the Ladbrokes League Two season.
It was goalless at the same venue just more than a week ago in the initial cup tie, while City looked like they would leave Station Park with a first win of the season on Saturday until their former player Danny Denholm cancelled out Ouzy See’s opener.
Despite lying at opposite ends of the table, there has been virtually nothing between the teams when going head to head, and City boss Gary Jardine expects a similarly tight outcome this evening, with his team’s overall league form forgotten about as they attempt to proceed in a competition the club has traditionally done well in.
“I would expect more of the same,” he said. “Forfar are the best side in the league and we’ve gone toe to toe with them in the last two games. The players get to know each other and I’m sure it’ll be a tight affair.
“It is a nice distraction from the league. We’ve always enjoyed the Scottish Cup. Both teams had chances to win it in the first game and I suppose it will be similar going in to tonight. Our performances so far have deserved more than what we’ve got, and I’m fortunate that I’ve got a group of players that believe that, so confidence isn’t low.”
After tonight’s game is decided, the teams won’t see each other until January 21 when Forfar return to Meadowbank – something both teams will probably welcome having seen plenty of each other. City midfielder Sean Muhsin believes being so familiar with the opposition could be beneficial.
“I think it’s a help,” he said. “From our perspective, we don’t know anybody in the league having come up. There’s not a great deal of League Two football on the TV and I’m not sure many people would subscribe to it even if there was! But it’s good for us. We’ve done our homework so we know all about them now, we know their weakness and more importantly we’re starting to find out more about our strengths.”
Jardine’s opposite number Garry Bollan has now seen his team tested three times against the league’s bottom club, and knows what will be required if they are to claim a second win of the campaign over City.
“You need to win your battles first and foremost,” he explained. “We’re at the top of the league, Edinburgh City are at the bottom fighting for their lives – you’re always going to get a battle. Edinburgh set their stall out, they’re well drilled, well organised and it’s up to us to break them down. You have to give them credit, they fought until the end on Saturday, got their goal and with a bit of luck at the end they might have just won it.
“The players are looking forward to tonight. It’s City again. We’re familiar with each other but hopefully it pans out that we’re in the next round.”