Linlithgow want another cup run – you can bank on it

Ruari Maclennan and Blair Batchelor celebrate a goal against Ross County
Ruari Maclennan and Blair Batchelor celebrate a goal against Ross County
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Linlithgow Rose midfielder Blair Batchelor says they’ll treat William Hill Scottish Cup opponents Banks O’ Dee like one of their East Super League rivals as they bid to kick-start another memorable cup run.

Rose travel to Aberdeenshire tomorrow for their Second Preliminary Round clash against the North Super League leaders at the unforgiving confines of Spain Park – the salubrious sounding stadium not in keeping with the reality according to Batchelor, who is expecting a tough afternoon up north.

The dynamic midfielder was part of the Rose side who made history two seasons ago, becoming the first Junior club to reach the fifth-round of the competition when they pulled off a shock 1-0 replay victory over Forfar Athletic, which set up a visit to Premiership Ross County’s Global Energy Stadium, a match they lost 4-2.

“It’ll be a tough game,” said Batchelor. “We played up there a couple of years ago against Culter in the Junior Scottish Cup at the same place and it wasn’t a great astroturf; it’s not the greatest of surfaces to 
play on, and we struggled to a win.

“The most important thing is getting to the next round, you want to try and get as far as you can and hopefully go on a wee run again.

“They’ll be a good side, I think they’ve won that league pretty convincingly the last couple of years. We’ll just approach it like we are playing Bonnyrigg or Bo’ness and take it as it comes.

“Getting through to the next round is the main thing. It was good for the club a couple of years ago and hopefully we can go and do that again.”

Rose are slowly beginning to find their feet under manager Mark Bradley, who returned to Prestonfield towards the end of last season and put his own stamp on the squad 
over the summer – with 
ten new signings brought in.

It will take time for Rose to get fully into their stride given the changes to the playing staff, but the early signs are promising, with winger Owen Ronald in particular having impressed during the club’s first six games of the season.

Batchelor, who is the sole survivor of last season’s midfield, believes they have the potential to be even better than the side which broke new boundaries in the Scottish Cup in 2016.

He continued: “I think we are stronger this year than we were last so we should hopefully be able to push on a wee bit.

“Compared to the squad a couple of years ago, I think we are stronger too. We are just starting to find the relationship between each other, but I certainly think we could be better than that side given a bit of time.

“We’ve got a new manager, new signings, it’s pretty much a whole new team. I think there’s only five or so who were kept on from last season.

“We are playing the right way again; there is a good tempo about us – you can see it a mile away, we are getting back to where we should be, although we still haven’t played to our potential yet, but it’s getting there.

“It’s a whole new midfield, obviously I’ve played with Ruari and Roddy [MacLennan] before and played against Sloany [Robert Sloan] so many times before so I know what he’s about. Owen and Sheildsy [Martin Shields] have both come in and done really well.

“Playing with Ruari and Roddy again is easy – and Sloany as well.

“They are good players and it makes your game easier when you are playing with good players, you can get a bit back to your own game instead of 
feel like you are having to do everything.”