Haddington Athletic co-manager Kevin Twaddle has urged his team to relish their favourite tag and book their spot in the last 32 of the Scottish Junior Cup.
The Millfield Park men have already achieved two west scalps so far against Troon and Shotts Bon Accord – ties in which they were not expected to win.
However, they are no longer underdogs and are favourites to progress in their third round clash at home to Neilston tomorrow.
Twaddle will be hoping his men make it easier for themselves this time around. In a remarkable second round replay they found themselves 3-0 down with ten minutes remaining, only to summon the spirit to take the tie to penalties, where goalkeeper Sinclair Inglis was the hero as he saved three Shotts spot-kicks.
Former Hearts winger Twaddle hopes luck is on their side again tomorrow, he said of their second round tie with Shotts: “You’ll only get one of them once in a blue moon. That was kind of spooky what happened, they don’t happen often, it was a mirror game of what happened in the first game and that never happens in football, it was bizarre.
“You need luck in the Scottish Cup, it doesn’t matter who you are playing. We were lucky against Shotts in the second game, we should’ve won the first game and we were lucky against Troon, they battered us. Over the piece we’ve not deserved to win the two games we’ve played, but that’s football. Luck is a huge part and you’ve really got to take that and build on it.”
Twaddle and fellow manager Brian Johnston took over the reins at Millfield late in pre-season following Johnny Harvey’s departure to Penicuik Athletic.
With Harvey taking several players with him to the Super League, Twaddle and Johnston were left with a job on their hands, a depleted squad with little time to assemble a team ahead of the new season.
Twaddle admits it wasn’t pretty at first as the Hi-Hi struggled in their first few matches in the Premier League, but they’ve been re-invigorated as a result of their Junior Cup run and he doesn’t want it to stop just yet.
“I can’t argue with the way that the players have turned things around for us,” said Twaddle. “We were obviously struggling at the start of the season but it’s different now, it just feels really good. We’ve brought in our own bodies and the boys are buying into what we’re trying to do.
“It was a bit doom and gloom but the boys have been fantastic for me and Brian. Some of the results we’ve had over the past six or seven weeks have been brilliant. A wee run in the Scottish Cup gives you a great buzz, it’s amazing for the lads.
“The Scottish Cup has lifted everybody at the club. You’ve got boys in the committee, who have been at the club a long time, who’ve never had opportunities to get runs like this in the Scottish Cup.”
Twaddle expects his side to progress to January’s fourth round if they perform, but insists they won’t be taking their Central District First Division opponents lightly and have to handle the pressure of being favourites.
He added: “We know how hard it’s going to be. They are a big strong side, they are a handy side and they’ll take a lot of beating. If we play well, at home, I can’t see us losing the game.
“We’ve got an opportunity to go and do some damage. If we play well, I’m not being disrespectful to anybody, I think we can win the game comfortably, but we can’t take anyone for granted.
“It’s an opportunity for the players to put their name in lights and do well. It’s up to them to produce and if they do, I’m sure they’ll do us proud.
“We’re in the same situation as what Troon were in when they came down here. We weren’t expected to win the game as Troon are a big side. We’re favourites to win the game on Saturday and it’s a wee bit of a reverse this time. We’re at home so there’s a wee bit pressure on us and it’s up to us to produce what favourites do.”
Elsewhere, Bonnyrigg Rose are in Lanarkshire as they visit Thorniewood United. Musselburgh Athletic are away to Super League rivals Lochee United, while Linlithgow Rose are on the road at Dundee North End. Arniston Rangers and Tranent also face away trips at Renfrew and Cumbernauld United, while Dunbar United take on Dufftown and Edinburgh United host Maud.