Leith aim to pile more cup misery on Spartans

Leith captain Neil Lowson, left

Leith captain Neil Lowson, left

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Leith Athletic captain Neil Lowson insists he and his team-mates have nothing to fear this weekend when they visit city rivals Spartans on Football Nation Qualifying Cup duty.

The reigning East of Scotland champions have already conquered Lowland League opposition this season having sent Preston Athletic tumbling out in the previous round.

Derek Riddel’s side also held Cumbernauld Colts to a 0-0 stalemate in the William Hill Scottish Cup first round in October before bowing out to the North Lanarkshire outfit 1-0 at Broadwood in the replay.

Lowson accepts that his team will be massive underdogs at Ainslie Park tomorrow but with a place in the semi-finals at stake, the defender believes it would be very foolish of their opponents to write them off.

“It’s a game we have been looking forward to for a few weeks now as it’s a good challenge for us,” 25-year-old Lowson said.

“We know Spartans are a good team but so are we. They are the standard we want to be playing against every week. We’ll be underdogs, there’s no two ways about it but Spartans are a side that are normally challenging at the top of the table so it will be a good test for us to see where we are.

“I think we’ve already shown this season that we’re more than a match for clubs in the Lowland League so we’ve nothing to lose whatsoever.

“We’re going in confident having gone to the top of the league last weekend with a win over Eyemouth so that’s a position and something we want to continue between now and the end of the season.”

Leith have already sampled success at Ainslie Park this season having seen off Coldstream in the second preliminary round of the Scottish Cup in September – the tie having been switched from Meadowbank 3G to coincide with the SFA’s licensing regulations.

“They’ve got great facilities and Ainslie Park is a venue that a lot of people that play football in the city will have played at so you can settle down there quite quickly,” Lowson explained.

“We’ve played there twice already this season so we’re used to it. And because our own park is of a similar surface it makes no different to us. It suits the kind of football we aspire to.

“We try to be at our best every week no matter who we’re up against so that shouldn’t change 
tomorrow. That’s not being cocky about it, I just think we’ve got some really good players within the dressing room who are more than capable of holding their own against teams of this calibre.

“I think the fact that Tynecastle beat Spartans a couple of weeks ago (South Region Challenge Cup) will probably motivate them more to be honest. I’m sure they respect us as a good football team and no one wants to go into games 
where you expect to win 8-0 every week as there’s no fun in that.

“They obviously had a tough game during the week against St Mirren in the Scottish Cup [a 5-1 defeat] but they’ve had a few days to rest up so I think they’ll be looking to bounce back more than anything. They’ve got a decent and big enough squad so I’m guessing they can make some changes if needs be which will keep us on our toes.”

Elsewhere in the Football Nation Qualifying Cup quarter-finals tomorrow, East of Scotland League rivals Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale host Eyemouth United at Saughton Enclosure having overcome ex-Hibs striker Garry O’Connor’s Selkirk 3-0 in the second round on Wednesday night.

Heriot-Watt University, meanwhile, are also up against Lowland League opposition in Hawick Royal Albert after their clash down in the Borders on Tuesday night was postponed due to an unplayable pitch.

In the Lowland League, Civil Service Strollers travel to Victoria Park to face mid-table Vale of Leithen.

Alex Cunningham’s side are currently third bottom in the table but three points tomorrow could move the Christie Gillies Park outfit to within three points of their opponents.