Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale striker Darren Smith is hoping to log another memorable William Hill Scottish Cup win this weekend as the East of Scotland League champions travel to East Kilbride in the fourth round (3.00pm kick-off).
The 29-year-old striker works in a timber factory in Bo’ness and will be hoping to chop down the ambitions of Billy Ogilvie’s Lowland League side, having been on the scoresheet against Huntly in the third-round replay at Ainslie Park last month.
It has been an incredible cup journey for Lothian, who have seen off the challenge of Junior, Highland and Scottish League Two opposition, but Smith has not been surprised by the progress his side have made with a place in the last 16 at stake tomorrow.
“We’re all a confident bunch of guys and we always go out there believing we can win any game. The key to it has been the togetherness of the squad and a good coaching staff because we all want to do well for the club,” said Smith.
“Having such a massive game after Christmas meant we couldn’t lose our focus over the festive period, but we had friendly matches to keep us ticking over and the squad is buzzing for tomorrow. We’ll allow ourselves something out of our selection boxes if we do it I’m sure!”
As one of the more experienced members of the squad, Smith believes the attitude and performance levels of some of the younger members of the Lothian squad has elevated them to new heights.
He said: “Scott Taylor-McKenzie’s goal against Huntly in the replay was a fantastic strike, we all know he’s got it in his locker as he does it regularly in training but I don’t think you’ll see a more cleaner striker of the ball at this level.
“We only train two nights a week and we don’t have the biggest budget compared to some of the Lowland sides, but I think our run in this competition shows that we would be able to compete in that league.
“The East of Scotland League produces some fine young talent and we are one of a few clubs that is always willing to give youth a chance, but it is frustrating if you win the league but don’t meet the license criteria for the Lowland, although I know the club is working hard to achieve that.”
Smith knows the chances of the club drawing a Ladbrokes Premiership team becomes a real possibility if they can defeat the side that knocked them out of the competition in the first round last season.
“I’ve got a lot of Celtic and Rangers supporting colleagues at my work and they’ve been saying they’d love to draw us in the next round.
“That would be the stuff of dreams but it’s important we don’t lose focus and just keep doing what we’ve been doing. We’ve raised a few eyebrows already with what we’ve achieved and it’s been a great advert for the East of Scotland League.”
Smith also knows just how important the cup run has been to senior figures within the club such as chairman Tom Allison.
“Tom is the last person you see before you run out onto that park and he’s always there to offer you words of encouragement.
“To be involved with the club for the length of time that he has been is remarkable and hopefully we can put another big smile on his face and a few others tomorrow.”
Dean Cummings will be missing for Lothian tomorrow but otherwise Raymond Carr has no fresh injury concerns. for the trip to the K Park Training Complex.