Bonnyrigg Rose boss Robbie Horn admits it has been an impossible task to ban his players from talking about next weekend’s glamour William Hill Scottish Cup fourth-round tie against holders Hibs.
The magic of the cup has certainly hit the Midlothian town with around 5000 tickets sold – Rose’s entire allocation for the showpiece tie at Tynecastle. Horn’s men have a derby with Newtongrange Star tomorrow to contend with first, although the former Berwick Rangers assistant has revealed it’s been hard to keep his players focused with their game of a lifetime just a week away.
Rose crashed to a shock 3-1 defeat at promoted Dundonald Bluebell last weekend, a result which left them trailing Super League leaders Kelty Hearts by 20 points in the race for the title. Horn insists his players have to approach tomorrow’s match against relegation-threatened Newtongrange with the right mindset.
“Last week was just a whole host of things, to be honest,” said Horn. “People probably don’t appreciate what’s going on at the club preparing for a game this size – just tickets, money and a whole lot of organising going on behind the scenes.
“It was just a loss of focus on the game. Another thing we are finding is teams are desperate to beat us because of what we’ve achieved. I don’t think opposition managers are having to do any team-talks at the moment.
“It’s difficult to say but maybe it’s a case of their minds are on another game, watching what they are doing and not wanting to get injured. I’d like to think not but I think it goes with the territory of it – it’s the biggest game in a lot of these guys’ lives, so you can understand a wee bit loss of focus.
“I think Saturday was a reality check for everybody. I had a chat with the players regarding it and we’ve got to be better than that. They can’t go about on eggshells because something is more likely to happen if they do that. Everybody has to approach the game in the right manner with the attitude that we go and win the game. Saturday is really important and the following Saturday will take care of itself – it’s a one-off game.”
Horn knows his side can’t slip further behind Kelty as they bid to retain the league crown, which would also secure their place in the Scottish Cup for next season. But he’s given up on stopping them dreaming of their date with Neil Lennon’s Hibs and has encouraged them to bask in the intense build-up.
He continued: “We can’t [ban the players from talking about Hibs]. It’s absolutely impossible when they are bringing money in for tickets and finding out what’s happening on the night before the game and on the day of the game.
“You can’t not talk about it and you can understand. Everyone is trying to be focused and whatever, but it’s always going to be there in the back of their minds.
“Before Saturday and after Saturday, I was trying to keep the players focused as much as I can, and I’m still trying to do that, but I think there’s something in me now that’s maybe looked at it and thought a bit differently.
“Do you know what? Why shouldn’t they actually go and enjoy it and be able to talk about it? At the end of the day, you’ve got to milk it for what it is. It’s a great achievement and the players deserve it 100 per cent for their efforts last season and this season.”
Horn won’t have the luxury of being able to rest players carrying knocks against Stevie McLeish’s team. His squad is stretched to the limit with several players on the sidelines with long-term injuries. One player who is set to miss out on playing his former club is Lewis Turner, the midfielder having been forced off in the first half against Linlithgow Rose before Christmas and he will be given the weekend off to give him every chance of facing his boyhood heroes Hibs.
Horn added: “There’s a few guys carrying injuries and knocks and we’ve had guys not well as well, we’re just trying to get on with it. It’s not ideal preparation that we’ve had but it is what it is. There’s a strong squad of 18 players there and I’m sure we’ll be fine.
“Newtongrange are in a situation where they need to win, but there’s also that added incentive because we will be playing against Hibs. It’s a massive game for them and it’s a local derby as well so there’s always going to be an edge to it. They will be looking at us thinking ‘Look at these billy big times thinking they are the bees knees’ and the players have just got to deal with that.”