BO’NESS UNITED defender Stuart Hunter faces an anxious wait to find out if he can play in tomorrow’s Scottish Junior Cup quarter-final away to Irvine Meadow.
The Newtown Park club appealed the red card he was shown for his celebration after he doubled his team’s lead in their delayed last-16 tie at Rutherglen Glencairn last Saturday, but won’t find out the result until tomorrow morning.
The appeal hearing is scheduled for 10am at Hampden tomorrow, with manager Alan McGonigal’s squad plans up in the air until they find out if Hunter is free to play.
There is no doubt that the loss of their first choice centre-back could have a huge bearing on the cup tie, and Hunter isn’t confident of the appeal being successful.
“I’m not hopeful it’s going to be overturned, as I think they are going to go with the letter of the law,” said the 32-year-old.
“I’m hoping the panel will listen to what I’ve got to stay, but I’ve got a feeling they will stick with the referee’s report. I knew what I was doing and I gave it a ‘get in there’ to the Bo’ness fans. The crowd was made up of 95 per cent Bo’ness fans!
“It’s disappointing that it overshadowed what should of been a good win. Everybody needs a degree of common sense when it comes to these things.”
The feeling of missing a big match is not a new one for Hunter. He had to sit in the Rugby Park stand when his previous club Bathgate Thistle defeated Cumnock to lift the Junior Cup trophy in 2008 after missing out through injury.
And although he picked up a winner’s medal, it’s not one he feels he deserved having not played a part in the victory.
He said: “It’s pretty hard to take to watch from the stand. Even though you are part of the squad, it’s not the same when you don’t get to play and help the team to victory and that’s why the Junior Cup means a bit more to me.”
However, although his chances of taking part tomorrow are slim, he’d love to be able to lift the Junior Cup with Bo’ness and play a part. And with Bo’ness level on points with Newtongrange Star at the top of the Super League, but with three games in hand, a double isn’t out of reach.
“We are still in everything that we have entered, and at this stage of the season you can’t ask for much more,” he said. “It’ll be tough when we will be playing three games a week shortly, to catch up on the backlog. The main focus for us is definitely going to be the Scottish Cup and we have got ourselves into a really good position in the league.”
Hunter is not alone in having won the Junior Cup, with team-mates Tony Jaconelli and Andy Scott having lifted the trophy with Shotts Bon Accord in 2012, while striker Steven Hislop has won a host of trophies at senior level.
Such experience could be vital if Bo’ness are to achieve their aim of a league and cup double.
However, the less experienced members of the squad are playing their part too. Youngsters Kieran Anderson and Zander Miller are ensuring competition for places in the squad is fierce.
According to Hunter, such competition is vital and the younger players can look up to midfielder Craig Scott as the prime example for someone who has worked hard to get into the squad.
He said: “We have a lot of good youth players who are coming through and vying to take the more senior players’ positions.
“I certainly know I play better when there is somebody at the side of the park looking to take your jersey. You have got to have competition for places or that’s when complacency creeps in.
“If the young players are looking to see if their going to get a chance, all they have to look at is Craig Scott. He came in at the start of the season, but wasn’t really getting in the team. We’ve seen at training that he’s probably one of the best passers of the ball at this level.
“His passing is excellent and he’s now probably one of the first names on the team sheet for Alan.”