PENICUIK ATHLETIC will tomorrow attempt to earn a place in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Junior Cup for the first time since 1970.
Last season Craig Meikle’s men reached the last 16 for the first time in 33 years, but they will be bidding to go a step further tomorrow by winning their fifth-round clash at home to West Super League Premier side Arthurlie.
If they triumph this weekend, it will take the Midlothian club to their first quarter-final since they finished runners up 45 years ago. A last-eight trip to Musselburgh awaits the winners of tomorrow’s clash and the prospect of a 14-mile jaunt to Olivebank next Saturday is an exciting one for the former Burgh centre-back Meikle. However, the Penicuik player-manager is focused entirely on tomorrow’s opponents who secured their passage with a 4-3 penalty shoot-out win over Kirkintilloch Rob Roy last week.
Penicuik have scored 19 goals in their last four matches, spanning back to their fourth-round 7-0 cup demolition of Spey Valley last month, but Meikle would take an “ugly” 1-0 win tomorrow, with his side primed for battle.
“We had a couple of people through watching them last week and they are a big physical team – as you’d expect with a lot of the top west teams,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of players that enjoy the physical tussle as well, so we’re looking forward to that side of the game.
“I don’t know how much football will be played, but quite often in the Scottish it is a bit of a battle and that’s hopefully something we are up for and we can come out on top. It’s a criticism that some teams in our league have almost disrespected us with this season, saying we are a big physical team and all we do is punt the ball up the park and try and fight off the scraps.
“We are quite happy to mix it and win ugly if that’s what we need to do. I keep saying that to my players – I don’t care how we win, obviously we’d like to win every game by passing the ball about, but when you are playing on tattiefields at this time of year, it’s difficult.
“Our pitch is actually in surprisingly good condition – it’s probably the best it’s ever been at this time of year. There will be the possibility of playing a bit of football as well, but we’ll be going out there to do whatever it takes to get a win.”
Penicuik are one of just four east teams left in the competition, along with Musselburgh, Linlithgow and Camelon.
The Cuikie lost to Irvine Meadow in a fifth-round replay last season and while Meikle admits their chances of going on to win the competition are slim, he would see a quarter-final spot as an accomplishment.
He said: “From here on in, it doesn’t matter who you get, it’s going to be tough to go and win it. The big clubs who would have been favourites at the start of the season, like Linlithgow, Auchinleck and Hurlford, are still in it and all three of them face different opponents in the quarter-finals so there is a real prospect of them being in the draw for the semi-finals.
“To win the Scottish this year is going to be very difficult for anybody, but we’re just looking to improve on last season and get one step further.”
Meanwhile, Danny Smith takes Linlithgow to his former club Camelon in their fifth-round replay this afternoon after a 2-2 draw at Prestonfield last week. The winner will take on Yoker Athletic at Holm Park. Both of tomorrow’s matches kick-off at 2.30pm.