Scottish Cup: Nisbet glad to be back in dugout for Preston-Montrose

Craig Nisbet says he knows his team for tomorrow's visit of Montrose. Pic: TSPL

Craig Nisbet says he knows his team for tomorrow's visit of Montrose. Pic: TSPL

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Preston Athletic manager Craig Nisbet has revealed he felt out of sorts being absent from the home dugout last weekend.

The Panners boss missed the 2-1 South Region Cup defeat to East of Scotland outfit Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale due to a family break up north.

He did, however, make use of his time by taking in tomorrow’s William Hill Scottish Cup opponent’s Montrose’s SPFL League 2 clash against Elgin.

And, he admits he drew some comfort upon learning of his own side’s setback from the fact he had just witnessed the Gable Endies slump to a 5-0 loss on home soil – the Angus club’s biggest defeat of the season.

That said, Nisbet accepts their opponents are overwhelming favourites to progress into Tuesday evening’s third-round draw, which will take place at Cappielow.

“It was very difficult last weekend not being there, but I was kept up-to-date with texts and tweets from what was going on,” he explained. “It’s definitely not the same though. You can’t make any changes when you think it’s necessary, but I’ve got a lot of trust in my two assistants Kevin [Douglas] and James [Maloney] and by all accounts we played quite well barring the opening 20 minutes or so of the first half.

“We’ve got nothing to fear tomorrow, but we respect Montrose. They’re all professional footballers and play at a higher level than we do. But, at the same time, I can’t stress enough to the players that the opportunity is there if they want it.

“We’re at home in the second round of the Scottish Cup, it’s on grass, Montrose play a good chunk of their games on 3G and they’ve just come back off a 
really heavy defeat to Elgin.

“We’ve worked on shape and our discipline that will hopefully keep us in the tie for as long as possible. But we’re hoping for somewhere between 500-600 fans so they can really drive us on too.”

Nisbet revealed to the Evening News prior to last Saturday’s clash with Lothian that his frustrations were beginning to get the better of him due to a lack of commitment shown by some individuals of his squad – indicating there would be at least five or six changes from the side that had gone down 3-1 to Lowland League newcomers Civil Service Strollers the previous Saturday.

He does, however, have a clearer picture of who will be donning the blue shirts from the first whistle in East Lothian tomorrow. “I’ve got the starting XI in my head and I’ve already told one out of the 21 that they won’t be involved in the matchday squad,” he said. “I’ll be telling the other two at some point today, one of which is a goalkeeper, that they also won’t be involved.

“Unless there are injuries or anyone takes ill between now and tomorrow afternoon then I know the way we’re going to go. We’ve had to release a few players these last few weeks and David Porcher has also just signed for Musselburgh Athletic. David’s head just wasn’t in it having come back from the Paralympics in Rio and we agreed it was best for him to move on.

“I think we’ve got a much more settled squad now that we’ve had a good chat and seen a few leave.”

Elsewhere tomorrow on Scottish Cup duty, Whitehill Welfare make the gruelling trip to Highland League opponents Wick Academy.

Manager Steven Hislop and his players, however, will begin their journey north this afternoon and stay overnight at a hotel before completing the rest of the mileage first thing tomorrow morning.

Spartans are also up against Highland League opposition when they take on Huntly at Christie Park. Dougie Samuel’s men have struggled for consistency so far in the league this term and will welcome the opportunity to progress in a competition that has historically been kind to them.