NEW Linlithgow boss Mark Bradley is hoping to kick off his managerial career in style tomorrow – by claiming West Lothian derby bragging rights.
Bradley’s first official game in charge will be the eagerly-awaited Super League showdown at the home of fierce rivals Bo’ness United.
Bradley, a former Hearts youth player, is no stranger to big games having captained the Linlithgow team which played Queen of the South in the Scottish Cup four years ago and he’ll use all that big-game experience in attempting to turn over the Super League champions.
Bradley, who has invited long-time friend Derek Fleming to be his assistant, is likely to be without Linlithgow’s longest-serving player, Stuart McArthur, for tomorrow’s clash.
He revealed: “Stuart has gone over on his ankle in training and he’ll be missed.
“He’s a big player for us but it’s possibly a week to soon for him. Everyone else is fit and ready for the big one.
“There’s not a bigger game for our supporters and there’ll be no need to get the players up for the game, they already know the importance of it.
“Our focus is on winning the Super League because the financial rewards are great.
“A run in the Scottish Cup proper is a chance for the players and supporters to go on another adventure.
“I was captain of the side when we played Queen of the South four years ago and I remember the crowds that day.
“I’ve played at Ibrox for Berwick Rangers too and being drawn in that kind of game is possible if you do well in the Cup.”
For Bo’ness – managed by Bradley’s work colleague Paul Ronald, it’s a chance to beat their greatest rivals for the second time this season, the last game coming in the first round of the Scottish Junior Cup when United triumphed 2-1.
Ronald warned: “Linlithgow will be looking to bounce back from that defeat in the Scottish Cup. The crowd are desperate to have the bragging rights till the next one and the game takes care of itself. Stats go out the window even if you are playing poorly. All the Linlithgow players will be out to give Mark a winning start and that puts pressure on us. But, we have risen to the occasion in big games already this season and we’ll do it again on Saturday.
“One of the big rewards for winning the Scottish or Super League is the Senior Scottish Cup and we’ve had a taste of it this season.
“It’s a terrific reward for eight or nine months of hard graft but any Junior club would like to taste that. It’s down to getting the results after a season of bread and butter games week in, week out.”
Ronald has brought fresh blood into his squad by signing left-back Stevie Mulligan from Stoneyburn.
“He came highly recommended to us and he had a 45-minute runout last week and looked the part so he may come into contention,” said Ronald.
“We needed cover at left-back after Stuart Devine returned to Stranraer. Graeme McLaren did cover for us but he’s a natural winger and found it difficult sometimes. Stuart Hunter is still out waiting on a hernia operation but he’s been out now for four weeks and we’ve covered that position.
“Otherwise everyone else is fit after a two-week break.”