SCOTT TAYLOR-McKENZIE says Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale’s cup heroes are being driven by a desire to prove they could cut it at a higher level.
Left-back Taylor-McKenzie netted a spectacular 30-yard opener on Monday evening as the East of Scotland League champions booked their place in the fourth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup with a 3-0 replay win over Huntly.
The 19-year-old former St Johnstone and Livingston defender is enjoying his second spell at Lothian – a club he has been associated with since the age of four – having been signed by former manager Kevin Twaddle last season following his release by Saints.
And he believes the Capital outfit – who will tackle Lowland League side East Kilbride away on January 9 for a place in the last 16 – provides the perfect place for young players to improve their game.
“Setbacks happen in football and I was young and stupid when I was at St Johnstone, but Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale took a chance on me, and they have put just as much effort into me as well,” said Taylor-McKenzie.
“I’m still young and, like a lot of the other boys in the team, we all know we could play at a higher level.
“It’s all about someone being willing to give you a chance, and Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale can help you to achieve that.
“The club is open to anyone. If you want to succeed then you can. There’s a brilliant set-up here for kids right the way through the age groups.
“At this moment in time, I’m enjoying myself here and, if we can get past East Kilbride then we will have created another piece of history for the club.”
Should they advance past the fourth round, the prospect of coming up against a Ladbrokes Premiership team would become a real possibility for Raymond Carr’s side, who have already seen off the challenge of Girvan, Kelty Hearts and League Two side Montrose in previous rounds.
But Taylor-McKenzie insists his team-mates are are not getting carried away by their success despite all the praise coming their way.
He said: “The bond we have in the team is really good. Some boys might have had a hard day at their work but, when we train on a Tuesday and Thursday evening, we have a good laugh but get on with our business as well.
“Raymond is excellent with all of us. He’s quite old school in his methods, but he’s the kind of manager who would do anything for you and you certainly don’t cross the line with him.
“Our coaches Stephen McKenzie and Fraser Ogilvie are also great with the players. The buck stops with Raymond but they are a big part as well. Then you have guys like Tam Smith and Tom Allison, who put in so much work behind the scenes to keep this club going.”
McKenzie felt playing Monday’s match on the 3G surface at Spartans’ Ainslie Park – Lothian’s own pitch at Saughton Enclosure was left unplayable by the recent inclement weather – worked in his side’s favour.
“We train at Riccarton every week on that kind of surface and I do think it suits our game better,” he said. “Both teams had to handle it on Monday, but I think we adapted quicker and our passing was excellent throughout.
“If we could play on a 3G every week, we would.”