Darren Gribben insists Bo’ness won’t be fazed by tomorrow’s Scottish Cup clash with Arbroath as several of the BUs players are good enough to be playing at the same level as the Gayfield side.
The 28-year-old striker is among a trio of former Red Lichties players – Mark Peat, Nicky Walker and Ian Nimmo – in the Bo’ness squad, while there are others at Newtown Park who have experience of playing in the SPFL ranks.
Although Arbroath are flying high at the top of League Two, Gribben is adamant there’s no chance of Super League champions being overawed by their first-ever fourth-round tie. He believes the fact the tie is at Newtown Park will aid his side’s chances.
“They are favourites, but we are at home,” said Gribben. “Half the boys in our team are ex-senior players who could easily step back up and play senior football if they wanted to. At the end of the day, it’s two part-time teams playing each other – they are in the third division and we’re in juniors, but it’s whether they turn up on the day. We’ve got boys that can hurt teams too, so it should be a good game.”
Gribben, a man of many clubs, spent half a season at Gayfield when Paul Sheerin was in charge back in 2012, while he also played under current Arbroath manager Allan Moore during a spell at Stirling Albion back in 2007.
Gribben left Arbroath after his chances of playing regularly were limited. “I enjoyed my time at Arbroath, but it was just one of those where it didn’t work out,” said the 28-year-old.
“Just around Christmas time he [Paul Sheerin] told me he was bringing in Graham Bayne and said my chances would be limited, so I said ‘pay me up and I’ll leave’ – I didn’t want to be there if I wasn’t going to be playing.”
Bo’ness will be bidding to become the first junior club to reach the last 16 of the Scottish Cup tomorrow. They reached the fourth round for the first time in their history by beating League Two opposition in the last round when they overcame Elgin City 5-4 in a replay at Newtown Park after an incredible 4-4 draw in Borough Briggs.
The BUs had been 3-0 down at half-time in the original tie after manager Allan McGonigal changed from his usual formation, but he reverted to a familiar 4-3-3 for the second half and it paid dividends.
Gribben, whose strike in that match was voted ‘Goal of the Round’ by fans on the SFA website, is hopeful that his boss will stick with what they know best tomorrow afternoon.
He said: “We tried to change it up in Elgin and we got hammered in the first half. We’ve got a formation for our team and the boys know the formation. Allan will probably make changes again, he changes boys in and out depending on what game it is. But I’m sure he’ll pick a good team and we’ll go out and try and do our best.”
When Bo’ness visited Kelty Hearts in the Scottish Junior Cup last weekend, McGonigal made six changes from the team which started against Newtongrange Star in the league the week before, and he is set to tinker with his starting XI again tomorrow.
Experienced goalkeeper Peat was one of the surprise changes when he was dropped, with youngster Connor Wallace taking his place, but McGonigal revealed that change and others were for tactical reasons rather than a drop in performance levels.
He said: “The changes were tactical rather than for performance reasons as we hadn’t played that badly the week before against Newtongrange.
“We picked a team on Saturday that could go out and battle and could still play football at the same time and that’s how it worked out for us.” McGonigal had tomorrow’s opponents watched last weekend when they beat Clyde 4-0 at home after two losses in the league. Experienced duo Paul McManus and Bobby Linn both got on the scoresheet and the BUs manager is well aware that the Red Lichties are dangerous up front.
He said: “They will be a real threat to us. They are really experienced players with bags of pace and energy. They’ll certainly be harder to beat than Elgin, that’s for sure. We’ll need to raise our game to a different level.”
Left-back Stewart Devine will miss tomorrow’s match as he is on holiday, but McGonigal otherwise has a full squad at his disposal.