Dean Philp and his Spartans troops are in confident mood as they prepare to take on Bilston United in the Edinburgh Cup final tomorrow.
The Paties Road clash pits two sides from the Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur Association (LEAFA) Sunday section for the season’s first trophy – Premier Division 1’s Bilston and Spartans of Division 1.
They warmed up for the final by drawing 2-2 with Alnwickhill in the league on Wednesday – recovering from two goals down to come away with a share of the spoils. It leaves Spartans in third, knowing wins in their remaining two fixtures will see them leapfrog Rosewell Miners and guarantee promotion to Premier Division 2 for next season.
Manager Philp, who played some of his fringe players on Wednesday night, said: “We only had 11 players available and we rested a lot of guys purely because of the final. To come back from 2-0 down to draw, it’s a good result for us to be fair.”
Spartans crushed tomorrow’s opponents 6-1 in the Scottish Amateur Sunday Trophy last season, a time when they were competing in the Edinburgh and District Sunday FA, before switching associations this season. A lot has changed in a year, but Philp is adamant that Spartans have a plan and will be ready for the test.
Philp said: “Our team has changed a lot since we beat them 6-1. Being at Spartans, we lose a lot of players as we attract a lot of scouts.
“I’ve not had a chance to look at their team. On our day we’ll beat anyone, we’re not scared of anyone. If we play football like we know we can, we’ll cause trouble for any team.
“We’ve defeated teams from high divisions quite easily at times. We’ll have a game-plan, we’ll see how the first ten, 15 minutes go and how they come at us – or if they open up to allow us to get in behind them possibly.”
Philp, who will take charge of LEAFA Saturday side Links United at the end of the season, reinforced his players have an added incentive in ensuring they remain in the frame for next month’s IME Cup final.
He added: “I think a lot of the guys will be focused. It’s a big cup final. They know they’ve got to play well and they’ve obviously got to win it. The players know that in order to play in the next cup final, they’ve got to play well in this one.
“We’ve got 30 signed player so they are aware that there are guys who can come in and take their position. The 16 that I pick will be the best 16 from the last couple of weeks – it’ll be a headache for me.”
Midfielder Gareth Baxter is equally determined, suggesting their league form will stand them in good stead where the squad has some added motivation to lift the silverware.
“Our form has been good,” he said. “We’ve been winning games and trying to cement second place in the league, although we dropped two points on Wednesday night unfortunately.
“We’re all looking forward to the final as you’d expect. It’s a little bit into the unknown as Bilston are two leagues above us.
“We go into the final with extra motivation because our captain Gavin Cattanach is ruled out with a horrendous injury he picked up in the semi final of the IME Cup.
“So we want to win it for him as well as ourselves.”
The Edinburgh Cup final kicks off at 1.30pm tomorrow at Paties Road.