Gary Jardine hopes magic of the cup can kickstart Civil Service Strollers season

Civil Service Strollers boss Gary Jardine admits there has been an additional buzz about training this week ahead of tomorrow's Scottish Cup preliminary round two clash at Blackburn United.
No room for sentiment: Strollers boss Gary JardineNo room for sentiment: Strollers boss Gary Jardine
No room for sentiment: Strollers boss Gary Jardine

The Capital outfit make the short journey along the M8 to the Purdie Worldwide Community Stadium in what is the East of Scotland League Premier Division side's first-ever home tie at senior level.

It promises to be an historic occasion for the hosts, one Jardine insists his side are proud to be a part of. But the former Edinburgh City manager says there is no time for sentiment as he plots an extended run in this season's competition.

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Strollers have struggled for consistency so far in the Lowland League and currently occupy tenth in the standings.

"We're looking forward to the game tomorrow and playing in the Scottish Cup again," Jardine said. "There's always an extra buzz when it comes around. Despite getting beat by East Kilbride last week, we played well and prior to that we had picked up points.

"Similarly, to us, Blackburn will be looking forward to it and with it being their first Scottish Cup home game, they will get an extra lift. The opportunity to progress and perhaps get a run is a massive incentive for both teams and for that reason I think it has the makings of a cracking cup tie. It's just a pity we can't have a crowd in to see it.

"With us having such a big turnaround over the close season, it has taken time to gel but the players are working hard and that, coupled with some longer-term injuries returning, has seen an improvement in performances."

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Meanwhile, Spartans boss Dougie Samuel insists the cup draw "could have been a wee bit kinder" with divisional rivals East Kilbride the visitors to Ainslie Park.

Kilby were fast out of the traps when the campaign kicked off in October and only suffered their first defeat of the season – a 2-1 loss at Bonnyrigg Rose – a fortnight ago and remain just a point adrift of league leaders Kelty Hearts.

Spartans have seen a resurgence in form in recent weeks following a difficult start and Samuel is hoping that stands his players in good stead.

He said: "It's arguably the toughest draw we could have got. East Kilbride have built a squad and recruited a manager with a higher level in mind. However, it's the Scottish Cup, a one-off game where anything is possible.

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"It's a competition which holds happy memories for us. Our recent good form and results mean we can go into the game confident we can cause an upset. We are desperate to write another memorable entry in the Spartans Scottish Cup journal."

Elsewhere, Edinburgh University will be looking to put their disappointing league form aside when they welcome East of Scotland Premier Division table-toppers Tranent Juniors to East Peffermill.

The students are currently second bottom having taken just four points from a possible 33.

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