Derek Riddel has cited a buoyant mood in the Leith Athletic camp ahead of their involvement in the Alex Jack Cup final next weekend – but progress in the South Challenge Cup is the manager’s priority this weekend.
Leith, who will face Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale at Civil Service Sports Ground on Sunday week in the first East of Scotland final of the season, will welcome Lewis Martin and Lewis Tracey back for a trip to play Hawick Royal Albert, but Chris Wright (holiday), Peter Conaghan (work commitments) and the injured Lachlan Thom are all absent for Athletic.
“With the cup final approaching, competition is great for places and the whole squad is buzzing,” said Riddel. “Hawick have hit a bit of form of late and picked up a great result last week [a 1-1 Qualifying League draw at home to Premier Division leaders Stirling University], so they’ll be looking to continue that on Saturday.
“We had a really tough game down there last season and we needed an injury-time winner to get the three points.
“We played really well last weekend against Hibs [in a 3-3 draw at East Mains] and we’ll be looking to build on that. ”
Civil Service Strollers face the significant challenge of Lowland League outfit Stirling University at Muirhouse, with Strollers boss Andy Raeburn hopeful that a couple of new signings can compensate for the absence of a number of players carrying injury.
Ormiston, fresh from a 4-3 win at Duns, play host to Burntisland Shipyard, with Ormi boss Murray Cheyne aiming for his players to show the spirit shown in last week’s thrilling comeback victory.
“We are just looking for a repeat of last week’s team performance and if we get that we have to be confident of another win, but, Burntisland won’t make it easy for us,” said Cheyne, whose team will welcome back Sean Guiney and Ritchie Weir.
Easthouses Lily will travel to Peffermill to face Edinburgh University, with Lily boss Dave McQueenie relishing another test against a Premier Division team despite himself enduring a depleted squad for the match. Ryan McQueenie returns from suspension for Easthouses, but Euan Smith, Scott Borthwick, and David Arthur will sit out the match alongside Stuart Love, Gordon Wilson, and Jamie Shields.
“We have played well against Premier teams we have played this season, with some good results and close games where we have lost,” said McQueenie. “That gives me confidence that the lads can do it against higher-division opposition.”