Spartans host Edinburgh University in the tie of the second round of the SFA South Region Challenge Cup, with Spartans manager Douglas Samuel facing the club he coached for 11 seasons for the first time since he took over the Ainslie Park hot-seat.
Samuel relinquished his position as head coach with the students during the summer and was replaced by one of his assistants, Dorian Ogunro, who is full of optimism and brings the University to meet Spartans intent on upsetting the favourites.
Samuel has a strong affinity with Edinburgh University, although that will go out of the window for at least 90 minutes tomorrow.
“I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of good friends and catching up with people that I thoroughly enjoyed working with and coaching over the last few years,” he said.
“I know that Edinburgh University have a very capable squad and that so far it has been very difficult for Dorian to get his best 11 on the park but once he gets some of his experienced players back, fit and well, and can get a settled side then I have no doubt that they will climb up the league and be a team that other teams will fear as the season goes on.
“I’m enjoying working with this group of players at Spartans and I think that we have a great sense of togetherness, a real good work ethic and over the last two weeks our performances have gone up a level.
“We are in a good place just now with good competition for places in the squad.
“I think the players recognise that and as a result they are working very hard trying to play at their best level, week in, week out.
“This is the biggest cup competition that we play for locally. It’s a prestigious tournament and we are determined to get to the final and give ourselves an opportunity to win it.”
Spartans will be without their injured goalkeeper Ross Gilpin along with midfielder John Grant, while defender Kevin Sivewright faces a late fitness test.
Ogunro said: “We’ve got to be more aggressive in the final third of the park. The story of our season so far is that we are making chances but not taking them. It’s going to be a tough game against Spartans, no question about that. I know that Douglas has been working hard to change things at Spartans and get them more aggressive and play a different style of football, pressing up front more and I know that we will be under a lot of pressure.”
Ogunro hopes to have Jack Beacher, Andrey Kuzmenko and George Nikolidis – who all missed out in their midweek draw with Heriot-Watt University – available for selection.