Having made numerous appearances as a player, Preston Athletic joint-manager Paul Riley will retrace his own Scottish Cup experiences before sending out his fired-up squad for what he expects to be a battle against amateur outfit Colville Park.
The Panners make the trip to North Lanarkshire for their Preliminary Round 2 clash in fine fettle following back-to-back victories in the East of Scotland League.
This weekend’s fixture will also go some way to lifting the gloom that has plagued the Pennypit club ever since the club’s relegation from the Lowland League in May.
And now Riley, who starred for Brechin City in the late nineties and early noughties, is urging his squad to lap up an occasion that, he insists, doesn’t come around too often.
“It’s a special occasion for any semi-professional or part-time football player,” explained Riley, now 42, who also played for Hibs before his move to Glebe Park in July 1999. “I know that from experience and I’ve told the guys that. We’ve prepared for it as a big game, we’re doing everything in terms of a pre-match meal so you get that feeling it’s not a normal Saturday.
“Of course it would have been great to have had them down here at the Pennypit so we realise the task in being drawn away from home. There’s still a bit of an unknown, though.
“It’s a very tough draw. This was probably the one team where I’ve had to do a lot of homework. They are a very strong and physical side. I’m sure I’ll find out a lot about my players and I really will be urging them to make the most of it.”
Having lost their first league match to Leith Athletic almost a fortnight ago, Riley and joint manager Jack Lynch have been encouraged with the response reflected in the wins over Tweedmouth Rangers and Peebles Rovers.
“With back-to-back wins in the league we’re going into the game more confident than we were just a few weeks ago,” Riley said.
“I’ll be telling the guys to just go and play the game and not the occasion, do what you normally do and that will be good enough for me. I’ve played in games where guys freeze but if you stick to the game plan then nine times out of ten you’ll be fine. We’re going through to win, 100 per cent.
“It’s taken a tough pre-season but we feel we’re now finding the formula. We know the players better and what I would say with work commitments regarding myself, Jack has done a lot of the coaching over the last few weeks.”
Meanwhile, Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale boss Raymond Carr insists his players can ill-afford to take their eye off the ball in their Preliminary Round 2 clash with East of Scotland League rivals Coldstream.
The reigning league champions have been handed a favourable home draw against the Borders outfit at Saughton Enclosure tomorrow, a side they have got the better of the past couple of seasons.
However, Carr won’t stand for any complacency should his players have serious aspirations about progressing through to the next round.
“Anything can happen in these games so form goes completely out of the window,” Carr said. “You can play really well on the day and find yourself out of the cup. It’s who gets that bit of luck. But we’re looking forward to it. It’s the Scottish Cup so you don’t need any more motivation than that.
“It’s good that we’ve been drawn at home because Coldstream is a lot smaller and tighter pitch. We were down at Gala last week (Football Nation Qualifying Cup) and were cruising 5-2. They went down to ten men but brought it back to 5-5 to send it into extra time. We had to up a gear to go and win the game so it just shows you what can happen.
“Coldstream have definitely improved from last season so we’ll have to work hard to get ourselves into the next round. The two preliminary rounds are the banana skins so we want to be in the first round proper where you can then relax a little.”
In the East of Scotland League, Tynecastle visit Eyemouth United while Leith Athletic are at Stirling University. Heriot-Watt University host Tweedmouth Rangers at Oriam. And, in the Alex Jack Cup first round, Ormiston welcome Peebles Rovers.