Spartans and Strollers all set for semi-final ties

Dougie Samuel insists tonight's game is Spartans' biggest of the season so far

Dougie Samuel insists tonight's game is Spartans' biggest of the season so far

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DOUGIE SAMUEL admitted his Spartans players could have done without extra-time at the weekend ahead of tonight’s Football Nation East of Scotland Qualifying Cup semi-final against Gala Fairydean Rovers at Ainslie Park (7.45).

Blair Munn’s opener for Cumbernauld Colts looked to have ended Spartans’ South Challenge Cup interest before a last-minute Keith Murray penalty forced an extra 30 minutes. A late Euan Saunderson winner in extra time ensured Samuel’s men remained in the competition.

The extra workout wasn’t ideal preparation as the Ainslie Park side look to reach their first cup final since March 2014, a 5-4 penalty shoot-out defeat to Whitehill Welfare in the Image Printers Cup.

And Samuel’s squad will be tested as they aim to end the season with silverware for the first time since winning the Lowland League in 2014.

“The squad is quite small as it is so we’ll have to nurse one or two of them through the next few weeks,” he explained. “We’ve not had much recovery time since Saturday but tonight is the biggest game of our season so far.”

The other semi-final sees East of Scotland League outfit Civil Service Strollers travel to meet East Kilbride.

Strollers manager Alex Cunningham sees no reason to fear a trip to K-Park to face a team who were taking on Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round just ten days ago.

He said: “We will be underdogs but, with the good run of form that we’re in at the minute, there is reason to be quietly confident. Hopefully, they might underestimate us a wee bit.”