Grinchy hoping to steal last-eight spot with Spartans

Craig Stevenson, right, celebrates with Kevin Motion whose penalty knocked out Clyde in round three. Spartans chairman Craig Graham and Dougie Samuel are pictured below
Craig Stevenson, right, celebrates with Kevin Motion whose penalty knocked out Clyde in round three. Spartans chairman Craig Graham and Dougie Samuel are pictured below
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Craig Stevenson believes Spartans have been handed a real opportunity to make history and reach the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-finals after the fifth-round draw paired them at home with Berwick Rangers or Albion Rovers.

The midfielder, nicknamed “Grinchy”, admitted that while it wasn’t the glamour tie many had been dreaming of since the final whistle blew on Saturday’s 2-1 win over Morton, a winnable game was the next best thing.

With it being the last tie to be drawn, the North Edinburgh club knew their opponents, and were delighted to be given another home tie.

“I watched the draw at work,” said Stevenson. “We wanted Celtic, Rangers or Hibs but after they were out we wanted at least a home tie and that was probably the most winnable game I would say, certainly out of those left in the hat. We’ve already beaten a League Two team and a League One team so we’ve got a good chance against Berwick or Albion Rovers. Obviously we know it’ll be a hard game but there’s nothing to fear. We’ll approach this game the same as we’ve approached the last two rounds.”

The Ainslie Park side have long had a reputation for Scottish Cup victories, and while this season’s results in the competition have made league clubs and national media sit up and take notice, Stevenson is under no illusions that they’ll again go into a home cup tie as underdogs.

“I don’t think either team will be wary but I don’t think they’ll underestimate us either. I don’t think Morton underestimated us on Saturday – in the first half they could have been out of sight really. They went 0-1 up and could have had a few more. We got a bit of a telling off at half-time and told to get in their faces more and I think we gave them too much respect in the first half. I think after seeing our last two Scottish Cup results, Berwick and Albion will have done their homework on us. They might not fancy it as it’ll be another scalp if we win and we’re looking forward to it.”

Whilst he has no strong preference as to who triumphs in the replay between the two, Stevenson, as an ex-Berwick player, admitted it would be nice to be facing some former team-mates if the Wee Rangers do progress.

“It’s not something I’ve really thought about to be honest. I’m just looking at it as the last 16. It’s more been about how crazy it is that we’re at that stage with a chance of getting to the quarter-final. If it is Berwick, I know a lot of the boys there and I still keep in touch with quite a few of them so it would be quite nice if they win their replay. I’ve not seen much of either this season. We played against Berwick in pre-season and they’ve made a few changes since I was there, so I’m not really in a position to make a prediction on who’ll win between them. Going on league form, Albion will probably be favourites being third in the league. After getting a draw at Shielfield on Saturday they’ll probably fancy their chances to get through at home.”

Stevenson joined Spartans in the summer from East of Scotland side Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, along with goalkeeper Kevin Swain. This is the first occasion that both have played in the Scottish Cup “proper” and the one-time Hibs’ youth player is slightly stunned at how the campaign has unfolded. “I didn’t expect it, definitely not! The Scottish Cup was always a bonus. Obviously our main objective is to try and win the league and try and get promoted so we’re playing against teams like Berwick or Albion Rovers every week. It’s certainly been a good run and hopefully it continues when we play them in the next round.

“To get to the quarter-finals with Spartans would be unbelievable. I think we’d be the first non-league team to ever make the quarter-finals if we got there but there’s still a long way to go. It’ll be tough so we’ll need to wait and see.”