CIVIL SERVICE STROLLERS goalkeeper Stuart Burnside says he and his team-mates are desperate to make it third time lucky when they visit Hawick Royal Albert in their William Hill Scottish Cup first-round replay tomorrow.
Strollers required a late Jordan Finnie strike at Christie Gillies Park to preserve their cup status for another week at the very least having fallen behind to Jon McInally’s 74th-minute free-kick six days ago.
However, tomorrow’s clash will be the third time the Lowland League’s newest additions have faced one another since the summer – Hawick having emphatically triumphed 5-0 in the league curtain-raiser at Strollers’ home ground on July 30.
And now Burnside, who wears the captain’s armband, says there are a few scores to settle with the Borders club with the winner of tomorrow’s replay being further rewarded with a second-round trip to League 2 side Berwick Rangers on October 22.
“It’s a huge incentive for us to get through this weekend with the winners being drawn against Berwick.
“But first and foremost we’ve got to get past Hawick tomorrow before we can even think about that,” 29-year-old Burnside said.
“You want to play in the big games so it’s days like this when the decision to move up to the Lowland League is all the more worthwhile.
“I didn’t play in the first game of the season as I was Best Man at my friend’s wedding but from what I understand it was a bit of a freak result and it probably is still at the back of folks’ minds.
“So we need to prove we are a better team than what we showed on that day.
“We have done well in other games this season and have maybe just not got over the line. We were close against East Kilbride (lost 2-1), we drew with Spartans (2-2) so there’s only so much you can say, you can’t just keep saying ‘oh we’re nearly there’.”
Burnside revealed his is relishing his role as club captain having been awarded the position by Alex Cunningham, who was appointed manager having left Spartans EOS in June last year, in what turned out to be Strollers’ final East of Scotland campaign prior to making the step up.
“Alex came in last season and made me captain so it’s a good responsibility. I’ve been in the game long enough to know what goes with the role so I’ve just got to try and keep some of the boys in check!” Burnside quipped.
“I think we are going in the right direction though, Rome wasn’t built in a day after all so it is tough, we’ve just stepped up a league so it might take a couple of seasons to get into the swing of things. If we are all being honest, our aim really is to consolidate each week and just stay in the league.
“We’re all behind Alex that’s for sure. He takes defeats really hard like a lot of us do but then he’ll take a couple days to think things over before trying to move forward.”
In the Lowland League this weekend, Edinburgh University welcome familiar opposition in Whitehill Welfare to East Peffermill.
The two teams battled it out at the home of the students six days ago in the William Hill Scottish Cup first round, defender John Hall’s first-half strike enough to earn Whitehill a slightly daunting second-round away tie to Wick Academy.
Spartans, meanwhile, will look to crank up the pressure on current league leaders East Kilbride with a tricky fixture at Dalbeattie Star.
Dougie Samuel’s men are currently four points adrift of Kilby in second spot but will breed confidence from last weekend’s narrow win over league newcomers East Stirlingshire.
And bottom-of-the-table Preston Athletic, buoyed by their 3-2 Scottish Cup victory in the Highlands over Nairn County, have a tough job on their hands when Shelley Kerr’s Stirling University visit the Pennypit.