Junior Cup: Losing would be unacceptable to Linlithgow

Blair Batchelor is one of the most experienced players at Rose
Blair Batchelor is one of the most experienced players at Rose
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Anything less than progression to the quarter-finals of the Scottish Junior Cup will be unacceptable, according to Linlithgow Rose midfielder Blair Batchelor.

The Prestonfield men go again in their bid to reach the last eight when they travel west to take on Maryhill after last week’s tie was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

It could be the same story again at Lochburn Park tomorrow with overnight showers forecast in Glasgow, but Batchelor remains focused on making the next round.

Rose face a scrap for Super League survival having won less than a third of their league games so far, but securing a quarter-final spot in junior football’s biggest competition could be pivotal in shaping their fortunes for the rest of the season. “It’s the Scottish Cup, it’s the biggest one and it’s always been the big one,” said Batchelor. “Nothing less than a win will be acceptable – it’s as simple as that. If we go out on Saturday, we are in a relegation fight for the rest of the season and that’s really it on top of a couple of other cups. But I think we’re good enough on our day to beat anybody and that’s what cup football is all about.”

Rose demolished North Division outfit Thornton Hibs 7-1 in a Fife and Lothians Cup tie arranged at the last minute after the cup postponement last weekend.

Batchelor revealed squad morale had sunk to a new low recently but feels the result could give them a timely boost.

He continued: “Morale has been pretty low amongst the group recently, to be honest. We’ve been unlucky on a few occasions, losing late goals and stuff hasn’t helped, but it’s definitely taken an effect on us.

“Last week was a bit of a confidence booster – we’d been needing that I think. We scored some good goals and we could’ve scored some more. It’s been a tough time for us and we need to just try and get through it. We’ve not performed anywhere near the way we should be performing.”

Batchelor, who is aged 28, was signed by Danny Smith when he was Rose boss in summer 2014. He’s now one of the club’s longest-serving players, highlighting the overhaul in playing staff in recent years.

Rose have a new identity about them with the bulk of their squad in their early 20s or younger, having come down from the senior ranks.

“We’ve got a lot of young boys and there’s been a big turnaround. They need to try and understand the identity of the club and what it means to all the fans,” said Batchelor. “Linlithgow is the biggest club in the east for me and it’s the most well run, especially behind the scenes. It’s young players that have come in so they maybe don’t have that experience of playing in the Junior game and how intense it can be at times.

“We just need to be big enough to try and cope with that. We’ll try and help the younger players that don’t have that experience. That’s when you are looking to the boys that have been there and done it in Junior football. We need to stand up more, certainly myself anyway, in helping them.”

Manager Todd Lumsden and his assistant Stevie Hislop have been working to change the mentality of their group, attempting to bring a more professional approach to training and match preparation.

Hislop, who became Lumsden’s assistant in November after leaving his post as boss of Whitehill Welfare, is hopeful they’ll start reaping rewards soon enough.

He said: “It’s trying to get a bit more professional. That’s no disrespect to Davy [David McGlynn, former manager]. I’ve worked with him and know how meticulous he is. The gaffer has just come in with a different approach and 
mentality. There’s certainly no panic. We know we have good players and it’s just a matter of time, although there is only so much time. You can’t just rely on 
Linlithgow being a big club. You need to go and prove it.

“It’s up to me and Todd to try and change what we’ve got at the club and to get results. We’ve not been ruthless enough – at both ends of the pitch.”