Dunbar United manager Geoff Jones hopes his team’s Scottish Junior Cup dream won’t be ended by Hermes tomorrow in their third-round replay.
The Seasiders host the North Super League outfit at New Countess Park following a 1-1 draw in Aberdeenshire last week.
Chris Moffat’s late headed equaliser maintained their run in the competition and, after the club’s players switched on the East Lothian town’s Christmas lights 24 hours later, Jones is hopeful they won’t blow their second chance to reach the last 32 on home soil.
“A draw was probably a fair result but I think we can count ourselves kind of lucky to be honest to still be in the cup because we didn’t really play,” said Jones, who led the club to the South Division title last season and promotion to the Premier League for the first time ever.
“We didn’t play badly – the journey just had a lot to do with it. We were four hours on a bus and stopping for breakfast made it four and a half. We arrived at a pitch which was really soft in some places and had industrial heaters blowing on it in other places to try and get it less hard.
“It wasn’t the most welcoming of places. They were really up for it and despite them being the Super League team they played it like it was a cup final. We never really turned up in the first half but we were all over them in the second. It looked like it was going to be one of those games where we weren’t going to score.
It was nine minutes away from being a disastrous journey back down the road but it was good in terms of still being in the cup. There was a disappointment in there as well because we’ve lost Chris King now for two games after he was sent off late on.”
Dunbar will be looking to at least emulate last season’s progress in the Junior Cup after they reached the last 16, losing out at home to eventual winners Glenafton Athletic.
Heading into the new year still in the competition is the target for most managers and Jones is no different.
He insists it’s not only important for the players but for maintaining a relationship with the local community, who he hopes can get behind his side tomorrow.
He continued: “It’s big thing, it gives the club and players a big boost to still be in the Scottish after Christmas because at that point you just need a decent draw at home and you’ve got a wee chance of getting through to the latter stages.
“It’s a big game, but it’s not a must-win game; we’re concentrating on just trying to stay in the league but a wee run in the Scottish is always nice to have and it’s good for the town as well.
“Scottish Cup runs help to bring a little bit more publicity and a little publicity brings more people through the gates.
“We need to try and progress to keep that community engagement as much as we can.
“The park was quite narrow and small last week and it didn’t really suit the way we play. Our method of play and our best players come to the fore when they have space and we can make passes and get in behind them.
“I would hope being at home, that we can dictate and go and play our game rather than adapt it to counteract theirs.
“They’ve got to go through what we went through this week. It’s a long way to travel and it does affect you. They’ll be leaving at the back of seven in the morning to get down for kick-off.”
After just ten Junior Cup matches survived the weather last week, all those postponed have been re-arranged for tomorrow.
Calvin Shand’s Musselburgh Athletic face a tough assessment in Ayrshire against Hurlford United, while Newtongrange Star host Cumbernauld United.