Musselburgh Athletic midfielder Darren Smith is expecting to face a different animal when Linlithgow Rose visit Olivebank tomorrow for the second leg of their Scottish Junior Cup semi-final.
Burgh shocked the four-time winners on their Prestonfield ground last Saturday – a 3-2 victory that was fully merited as they proved wrong the doubters who had already written them off as the weakest of the four remaining sides.
Striker Jordyn Sheerin hit a first-half double to give the visitors a commanding and deserved half-time lead, before Burgh goalkeeper Ally Adams was sent off early in the second half when he conceded a penalty. But Burgh didn’t wilt, although they had substitute goalkeeper Murray Jackson to thank for maintaining their one-goal advantage.
With half the job done, the onus is on Burgh to complete the deal and seal their second cup final spot in four years, with a repeat of the 2011 final more than likely after Auchinleck Talbot won 3-1 away to holders Hurlford United in their first-leg tie last weekend.
“That’s probably the best we’ve played as a team, both individually and collectively, for the first half last week,” said 34-year-old Smith. “I thought we got right at them and we were up for the game, but if we don’t approach the game in the same manner [this week], there’s no doubt we’ll lose the game.
“There’s a long way to go and I think we will definitely see a different team on Saturday from Linlithgow, as I don’t think they can be as bad as they were. It’s only really half-way and I think we’ll definitely see them coming at us and having a go at us. If we can defend well, I’ve no doubt we’ll score with the boys we’ve got in the team.”
Smith joined up with Burgh in January after his departure from League One Stirling Albion, where he was captain, at the end of last year. The central midfielder had offers to remain in the senior ranks, but opted to move junior after a call from Burgh assistant manager Murray Hunter, whom he’d played alongside at Berwick Rangers.
Living in nearby Tranent, the move was perfect for Smith, who has since formed a solid partnership with Jackie Myles in the heart of Burgh’s midfield, with the duo instrumental in their win over Rose last weekend.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Jackie, he does all my running for me,” joked Smith. “He’s an unsung hero in the team – you look at the goal-scorers or maybe the creative players, but you’ve always got to look at the boys who do the other side of the game.
“We’ve actually been able to go and dominate games and on Saturday I felt like me and him got on top of the game.”
Musselburgh boss Stevie McLeish will have goalkeeper Adams available despite his sending-off last week, with referee David Lowe noting in his match report that he’d denied a goalscoring opportunity, while Lewis Turner is also free from suspension after sitting out their last two matches.
McLeish has vowed to treat the game like any other and insisted he won’t ditch his footballing principles in order to preserve his side’s lead.
“I’m scunnered we didn’t put the tie to bed on Saturday, because I think we’ve let them off the hook a wee bit, but we can’t go out and defend the one-goal lead,” he said. “We’ve just got to try and play the game and approach it like any other – that we want to win it. We aren’t the kind of team to kick the ball away for 90 minutes and it’s not going to happen.
“There’s no shame in saying we are going to be underdogs even though we are at home. We can relax a wee bit and I’m sure the boys will really enjoy the game.”