Civil Service Strollers boss Gary Jardine would relish a William Hill Scottish Cup showdown against his former club Edinburgh City – just not in the current form they find themselves in.
Strollers salvaged a 2-2 draw against Forres Mechanics in their first-round clash in Moray last weekend to set up a replay at Christie Gillies Park tomorrow.
The reward for the winners is a tough away tie against the League Two leaders, whom Jardine guided into the SPFL in 2016 before stepping down from his role 12 months ago.
The 40-year-old believes Highland League outfit Forres remain favourites to progress, despite Strollers having home advantage, as they target a place in the second round for just the sixth time in their history.
Jardine confirmed he has no fresh injury worries and a full-strength squad to pick from barring loan signing Cammy Muirhead.
He said: “For clubs at our level, the Scottish Cup always creates a real excitement and to go on a run in the competition would be fantastic.
“I’ve been on a wee run before with Edinburgh City, which was very enjoyable, so it’s a brilliant tournament to play in but similarly it’s disappointing to get knocked out at the first hurdle.
“Of course, we are still massive underdogs. The Highland League remains a more established set-up, but the Lowland is quickly catching up.
“However, we’re just looking for continual improvement and being able to compete against teams like Forres is part of that stepping stone.
“Obviously, there is that added incentive for the club to progress and I’ll probably have mixed emotions if we get through because I spent fifteen years at Edinburgh City.
“I think it would be more exciting for the players, in all honesty. If someone had asked me beforehand who I fancied playing, that would probably be the one tie I wouldn’t have picked! Aside from myself spending a lot of happy memories with them, there wasn’t a more difficult team to face in the draw right now.
“They are top of their league and have only lost one game so far.
“They’ve attracted some quality players – I think there are only seven boys left from my time there – so it’s a very difficult draw, but we’re not looking that far ahead yet.”
Reflecting on last Saturday’s performance, Jardine felt his side were fortunate to merit a second crack at the Can Cans, who have enjoyed a terrific start to their domestic season.
Robbie Laird’s headed opener after 15 minutes and substitute David Churchill’s 88th-minute equaliser denied the hosts victory after hitman Alan Pollock rifled home two stunning efforts either side of the break to put Forres 2-1 up.
He added: “There’s no doubt we got out of jail last week because for 70 minutes they were by far the better side.
“We dug in near the end and were pleased to get a second bite at the cherry, but I was disappointed with our performance, as were the players.
“We started well and set out to put a bit of pressure on their defence, but once they levelled the match we sat off them and allowed them back into the game.”
Forres manager Charlie Rowley remains confident his team can still go through.
He stated: “We have no fear about going down there. We were thoroughly dominant in the game last week and clearly played the better football.
“Civil were direct and had good physicality about them at set-pieces, so we were able to have a really good look at them.”
Meanwhile, Whitehill Welfare, who sit bottom of the table, will aim to pick up maximum points from their Lowland League trip to Cumbernauld Colts.
The Rosewell club last week confirmed Jock Landells as their new manager and will be buoyed by a 1-0 Scottish Cup win over Edinburgh University as they search for just their second league success of the campaign.