Spartans ready for Queens of the South test

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As his side prepare for tomorrow’s Ramsdens Challenge Cup first-round tie against Queen of the South, Spartans midfielder Donal Henretty admits the Capital outfit are all too familiar with being labelled “underdogs”.

This tag has once again been reapplied to the Ainslie Park outfit, who travel to Dumfries to take on the SPFL Championship side, who are also the cup holders.

Henretty, 34, has been a mainstay in a Spartans side which has tasted some meaty competition during his time at the club, the likes St Mirren, Livingston and Airdrie all being drawn against the city club in the Scottish Cup, some requiring replays before eventually prevailing.

“Those were great days,” Henretty recalls. “Most of those games were at City Park and there was a real atmosphere in what seemed like huge crowds – it’s not what we were used to.

“We beat some really good teams along the way though; Queen’s Park, Alloa, Arbroath and Pollok, who were a top junior side. We had to work hard but you just try and enjoy it as much as you can. Obviously, you want to win and do as well as you can. “Against Livingston we were 0-0 at half-time, and, yes, we ended up losing 4-0 which was to be expected, but we did well.

“But the real big one was drawing at home with St Mirren and we could have ended up nicking it at the end.”

Henretty has been an integral part of the Spartans set-up for over ten years now and has fond memories of his side’s Scottish cup heroics, however, he believes it would be unfair to compare those individuals to the current crop that are preparing for the inaugural Lowland League campaign.

He said: “It’s difficult to compare the squads. Undoubtedly, the squads we had during those years were very strong, but I don’t think it would be fair to compare the two. Off the park, the club is better equipped in terms of the organisation and dealing with these sorts of things.

“I think we’ll play our normal game tomorrow and would imagine the manager will have a few things up his sleeve that he’ll want to try, but I think pre-season has been geared towards playing Queen of the South.

“We’ve had tough friendlies against a young Hibs side, Forfar and against Raith Rovers on Tuesday night. I think we have competed well and that bodes well for tomorrow.”

The trip to Palmerston Park to face Jim McIntyre’s side may offer a slight ‘home comfort’ to the Spartans players with a new 3G artificial surface having recently been laid, but Henretty acknowledges the job in hand could be one of their most sternest of the new season.

He added: “I’ve played in enough games now to know that you go out and do your best and what happens on the day happens on the day. It’s their first competitive game of the season whereas we’ve already had a couple so you never know.”