ARNISTON RANGERS manager Stephen Osbourne reckons his side still have a great chance of claiming a huge Junior Cup scalp despite letting Largs Thistle off the hook first time around.
The Gorebridge outfit were 20 minutes away from beating Thistle, finalists two years ago, in Ayrshire last Saturday.
It’s often said that the smaller teams only get one chance against the big boys and, even with home advantage tomorrow (2pm kick-off), Arniston will go into the replay as underdogs.
But Osbourne is hopeful the Midlothian side can still pull off one of the most memorable results in the club’s history.
“If we’d drawn against them at home and were now facing a replay down there I definitely think it would be more difficult for us,” said the Arniston boss.
“In my eyes we’re still the underdogs but that doesn’t mean to say our chance of beating them has come and gone.”
Scott Garden gave Arniston a first-half lead last weekend and after the break the visitors hit the bar, had a good Jordan Leishman goal chalked off for offside and a strong penalty claim turned down.
Salt was then rubbed into their wounds as Gary Phillips fired home in the 70th minute to earn Largs a second bite at the cherry.
“It was still a really good result for us,” said Osbourne, who’d done his homework on the opposition after watching them lose 3-1 at home to Lanark.
“The boys performed really well and I was particularly pleased with their concentration level throughout the game.
“We started off slowly. We were panicking a bit and, as a result of that, gave the ball away cheaply for a spell. But they settled into the game.
“When I went down to watch Largs, I thought they were a bit suspect whenever the ball was played into the box, whether it was from a cross, a corner or a free-kick.
“We had worked on that in training and it paid off as we scored from a corner, having already hit the bar before that.
“We knew they would come at us in the second-half but, in fairness to our players, they dug in well and looked as though they could weather the storm.”
If Leishman’s goal had been allowed to stand, then it’s likely there would have been no way back for Largs, who lost 1-0 to Linlithgow in the 2010 Final at Rugby Park. “Jordan put in a tremendous shift for us up front. It was a hard one for him but he was excellent,” added Osbourne.
“It looked as though he scored a perfectly good goal and I still don’t know how it was ruled out for offside. It’s exactly the same with the penalty decision that we had turned down.
“Even the neutrals were saying that after the game and I believe the Largs player who handled it was laughing about it, which tells its own story.
“When you take all of those things into account, I suppose you could say we were a bit disappointed we didn’t win the game last weekend.
“But, at the same time, we can take a lot of confidence from how we performed through there.”
When he was in charge of Edinburgh City last season, Osbourne couldn’t be at a tasty home clash with Glasgow giants Arthurlie due to work commitments.
He’s not got the same problem on this occasion, though, and is hoping to give the Arniston fans a day to remember. “It’s an exciting game for everyone connected to the club and hopefully we’ll get a decent crowd along on Saturday,” he said.
“It’s only half-time, I suppose, and we need to show the same work ethic that we did last weekend.
“I thought we limited Largs to long-range shots for most of the game and we have to try and do that again in the replay.
“We shown that we can hold our own against a good team like them and now it would be tremendous for the club if we could be in the last 16.”