Ian McFarland: Spartans have to make up for horror show against Cove
Ian McFarland appreciates the enormity of the task that awaits he and his Spartans team-mates at Ainslie Park tonight.
A 4-0 defeat to Highland League champions Cove Rangers in Saturday’s Pyramid play-off semi-final first leg has left the Capital club with a mountain to climb if it is to be them and not John Sheran’s side who will host Cowdenbeath in the play-off final first leg this weekend.
McFarland admits he is still at a loss over the visitors’ below-par performance at Harlaw Park and says the players owe it to themselves to restore some pride when their opponents make the 300-mile round trip for tonight’s return fixture.
Just how manager Dougie Samuel approaches the tie is anyone’s guess. However, 27-year-old McFarland is of the mindset that they have nothing to lose as they bid to keep their season alive.
“The boys were gutted after Saturday’s result. To get so far and then put in a performance like that was devastating,” he said. “But we’ve got the second leg to concentrate on and first and foremost we need to try and win the game and then take it from there.
“We definitely need to restore that bit of pride for ourselves because that wasn’t us up there. That’s all we can do and try to put a few wrongs right. I don’t think we did ourselves justice and that was maybe down to nerves.
“I’m realistic enough to know the size of the task we have in trying to overturn the four goals. We’ll do everything we can and you never know if we can get an early goal. But there’s no denying that we’ve given ourselves a mountain to climb. I think if we can win the game then we’ll have at least restored a bit of pride and we can move on.”
McFarland is no stranger to the play-offs, having been a mainstay of an Edinburgh City side that became the first club to secure promotion to SPFL League Two through the Pyramid system in May 2016.
City had to overcome then Highland League champions Brora Rangers before a late Dougie Gair penalty saw the Meadowbank side prevail 2-1 over East Stirlingshire to seal their promotion to Scottish football’s fourth tier. However, McFarland believes Cove are now on a different wavelength to the Brora side he faced back then.
“That Brora team at that time when I was playing for Edinburgh City were good, but Cove are definitely a better side from the one we faced,” McFarland said.” I think if Cove are to go through then there’s no reason why they can’t get past Cowdenbeath and I’d wish them all the best.
“They are a level above of what we’re normally used to. Their front four were exceptional and caused so many problems for myself and Mikey (Herd) in the middle of the park. They’ve definitely got League Two quality in their side and that’s why they’re getting paid what they are.
“The park was really difficult to play on Saturday and that’s not making excuses, but half the parks in the Lowland League are artificial. But we’ve shown this season that there’s so much character in the dressingroom so we’ve got another 90 minutes and we’ll go again. We had a think about things on the bus journey back down and I think the boys are all on the same page. We know how big a task we have in front of us.
“I’m hoping people will still come out to supports us tonight because a big crowd can really make the difference.”