It only added insult to injury. When the draw was made for the first round of the Scottish Junior Cup, both Bonnyrigg Rose and Bo’ness United were handed byes into the next stage.
But when blundering Scottish Junior FA bosses realised too few teams were in the hat, an additional game resulted in tomorrow’s match of the day, in which Max Christie’s Rose host Alan McGonigal’s United.
It’s the tie neither side – two of the east region’s big guns – wanted at this stage.
For Bonnyrigg, in particular, the tie represents a tough test. They’ve signed up some talented players, but have yet to set the heather on fire this season. Too many draws and indiscipline have already dented their Super League title hopes and manager Christie is well aware of the problems.
“This is the game where we really need a response from the players,” he said.
“We’ve struggled since the start of the season for various reasons, but this is the game to change our fortunes.
“We have a strong squad, but with players being sent off and others out with injuries, it gives chances for the rest of the pool to step up to the mark.
“We’re expecting a bumper crowd to roar us on tomorrow and we’ll need to up our performances – but we have the players to do that.”
Paul Currie is suspended following his red card after a horror challenge on Sauchie’s Darren Cummings last weekend, while Alex King is injured.
Rose player Ross Archibald, meanwhile, had been chosen for the Scotland squad for the next month’s Limerick Tournament but has had to withdraw for health reasons.
“I had to pull out on Wednesday morning because of feeling unwell for the last couple of weeks,” said Archibald.
“Hopefully, I’ll be ready by tomorrow, but we’ll wait and see.
“It’s a massive game for us, a chance to kick-start our season after a poor start. If you can’t lift your game for a tie like this then it’s time to hang up your boots.
“The expectations at this club mean you are expected to win every game and when it’s not happening the pressure builds. Hopefully we can kick on from here.”
Despite Bonnyrigg’s travails, Bo’ness gaffer McGonigal sees his side as underdogs.
“This is a game where we are looking to take the tie back to Bo’ness,” he said. “If we got a draw we would be delighted.
“We’re underdogs for this tie because Bonnyrigg have a good record at home in this competition.
“We believe there should have been a complete redraw, but the powers that be decided not to. Nothing surprises you in football any more.
“Bonnyrigg have a really good squad of players and although they might be struggling recently they could quite easily go on a big run. This is the tie nobody wanted – especially away from home.
“We’ve been playing well in recent games, but a Scottish Cup tie is different.”
United midfielder Robert Sloan is expecting a tough game.
The former Hearts player, also called up to the Scotland Junior squad, revealed: “I signed from East Fife and I know a lot of the players playing in the Junior ranks just now. The standard is great and the crowds are bigger than I was used to.
“Tomorrow is something special and a game I’m looking forward to. We won’t be fooled by Bonnyrigg’s poor start because they can be dangerous.”
Other local teams involved in first-round action include Musselburgh, who have a local derby on their hands when they face Arniston.
Tranent head for Keith in Aberdeenshire, while Edinburgh are in Angus for their game against Carnoustie.
West Calder United and Blackburn United have home ties against Sauchie and Largs respectively, with Stoneyburn in Larkhall to play Royal Albert.
Finally, Livingston United are away at Glenrothes.