New boss sends team north demanding progress in the Cup

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David BINGHAM sends his club Preston Athletic to face Fort William from the Highland League in the Preliminary Round of this season’s William Hill Scottish Cup tomorrow calling it the biggest game of the season.

Unfortunately for the new manager, a family holiday precludes him from making the trip but he is confident he has done all he can to give his squad the best chance of progressing to the next round and he has every faith in his players returning to home with a 

Bingham was appointed manager of Preston Athletic immediately after the end of last season when the Prestonpans club were promoted back into the Central Taxis Premier Division.

There are only four teams in this season’s preliminary round of the Scottish Cup and Bingham admitted that as soon as that happened he had to completely change his mind-set. “That draw changed the whole picture of pre-season training,” said Bingham. “My initial idea was to use the East Qualifying League ties as a basis to formulate my squad but this tie did not afford me that luxury.

“However, although the summer has been a bit more frantic than was anticipated, we have built up a squad and all of my players know exactly what their jobs are.”

Bingham, who played for St Johnstone, Forfar Athletic, Inverness Caley Thistle and Livingston in a professional career spanning 17 years and more than 400 appearances, has been busy attracting new players to Preston during the summer.

“I was keen to sign Robbie Arthur who I had worked with when I was a coach at Tynecastle,” enthused Bingham. “He had become a little disillusioned with the game but I encouraged him to come along and I think that he enjoyed our training because he knows what he gets with me. I am a winner – I want to win and I train players hard but hopefully they enjoy that aspect. I regard Robbie as one of the best players in the entire East of Scotland League.”

Another big signing for Bingham is former Hearts Under-19 player Dale O’Hara, who previously had a loan spell with Tynecastle and who Bingham describes as “a terrific young player”. Bingham added: “Dale can use playing for Preston Athletic as a platform to propel him back into the SFL.”

Preston have also signed striker Stevie McCormack who had a spell with Whitehill Welfare. “I want Stevie to get back enjoying his football again,” said Bingham. Preston’s goalkeeper is John Gilbertson about whom Bingham said: “John could have signed for any team but chose Preston Athletic and I am delighted. He probably needed a change from Tynecastle and I believe that he could still move upstairs.”

Other new additions include Kevin Barr from Ormiston along with Graham Nisbet and Mark Cherrie.

And he added: “Tomorrow’s game against Fort William certainly speeded up my decision making as I had to have signed players to play in the Scottish Cup,” said Bingham.

“I have to admit that I know very little about Fort William apart from the fact that were beaten 4-1 by Lossiemouth last week in a cup tie. However, I have tremendous confidence in my team and they will go to Fort William prepared to run themselves into the ground in what is, even at this early stage, the biggest game of the season with a place in round one at home against Nairn County the prize for the winner.

“This is the type of game my players are relishing and in football you just never know who is watching. We are a goal threat with Kevin Cairnie and Sean Martin and we know how to score goals from all areas of the park. My players need to focus and concentrate for 90 minutes and hopefully come out on top.”

Bingham, of course, is no stranger to the Scottish Cup and was a member of the Gretna squad that reached the Final in 2006 where they lost on penalty kicks to Hearts.

Although he was not stripped for the final because of illness he did score against the club he now manages in the first round at the Pennypit where Gretna beat Preston 6-2.

The game kicks-off at 
Claggan Park, Fort William, tomorrow at 3.00pm.