Bonnyrigg keen to measure themselves against Lowland League high-fliers

Kieran McGachie scored a hat-trick last week and is a potent weapon for Rose
Kieran McGachie scored a hat-trick last week and is a potent weapon for Rose
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Bonnyrigg striker Keiran McGachie believes tomorrow’s South Region Challenge Cup fourth-round tie at BSC Glasgow can be a gauge of how they would fare in the Lowland League, although he is confident Rose already have a squad which could compete at the top end of the table.

The New Dundas Park men’s goal is to compete at the summit of the pyramid system, something which they will only be able to achieve through obtaining an SFA licence, with the embargo for new membership applications recently lifted.

Ambitious clubs seeking Lowland League membership must have their entry level licence in place by March, something Rose are already making steps towards with recent ground improvements aimed at bringing standards up to meet criteria.

McGachie, who netted a rare hat-trick in Bonnyrigg’s 4-1 defeat of East of Scotland Conference B rivals Bo’ness United last weekend, is relishing the test against one of the current top four in the Lowland League, having admitted to feeling sorry for clubs Bonnyrigg have swept aside so far this season.

“I think we’ve got a squad that could challenge in the Lowland League,” claimed McGachie. “We’ve played Lowland teams in friendlies, we’ve played Spartans before, and I think we’ve got a squad that would actually challenge already.

“I suppose Saturday will be a test, but we want to be at that level so we want to be playing these teams. It will be quite a strange one because I don’t know how they will take us. They will be the first Lowland team we have played competitively. It will be good to see the standard and see where they are at. We’ll raise our game further. This is our only way really of playing Lowland League teams so we obviously want to stay in the cup as long as possible and really start challenging them and seeing the level that they are at.

“We’ve played Dundonald [Bluebell] who are probably up at that level and Bo’ness when they’ve got a full strength team, so we’re playing teams as good as them – they just don’t have the title saying that they are Lowland League. It will be similar to playing against one of the better west sides.

“It will be a much more enjoyable experience for everybody. We shouldn’t really moan about winning 10-0 and 13-1 but it isn’t enjoyable, it really isn’t. People will think that’s odd but it really isn’t enjoyable. I’m too nice and I end up feeling bad for them. I don’t know if there would’ve been a fairer way of doing it [devising the league structure], but it’s just the way it has worked out.”

Rose have continued to set the bar since David Burrell returned to the club when he was made interim boss three weeks ago, the transition being seamless for the club’s former assistant manager who assumed the reins from caretaker boss Jonny Stewart after David White’s shock departure in September.

McGachie is unsure whether his current gaffer would like the job full-time, but hailed midfielder Stewart for the role he played in stepping when called upon.

He continued: “I don’t know what the plan is, I don’t know if Davy would want it [the job permanently].

“Someone needed to come in and steady the ship and take that role off Jonny Stewart, who was unbelievable. The amount of respect all the boys have now got for Jonny, sacrificing his own playing, having to stay late and come early; he was absolutely brilliant and kept everybody happy.

“It was better having Davy in who can take that burden off Jonny, who can do a more supporting role which will suit him. It was awkward one for Jonny, choosing whether to play himself or not play himself; if he does play himself there would be nobody on the side to 
manage.

“It was an awkward one for him, but I thought he dealt with it so well. He’s been a real asset to what we’ve been doing and a lot of the success is through Jonny and Davy just keeping it all consistent.”