Scottish Cup: Spartans on Coldstream guard

Ally MacKinnon (5) celebrates his goal that earned Spartans a 1-1 draw with Berwick Rangers at Ainslie Park last season
Ally MacKinnon (5) celebrates his goal that earned Spartans a 1-1 draw with Berwick Rangers at Ainslie Park last season
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Spartans begin another William Hill Scottish Cup campaign tomorrow at home to Coldstream, but defender Eddie Malone has been through enough of them himself to know not to look beyond the first-round tie.

Dougie Samuel’s men arguably provided the story of last season’s competition, defeating Greenock Morton in the fourth round then coming within 90 minutes of a historic quarter-final tie with Hibs at East Road. It wasn’t to be, however, losing 1-0 in a replay to Berwick Rangers at Shielfield following a dramatic 1-1 draw at Ainslie Park.

Malone played in both Berwick games, and while another cup run would certainly be welcome, he and his team-mates are firmly focused on overcoming tomorrow’s East of Scotland League opponents. “If we emulate what we did last year then we’ll be doing well,” he said. “It’s early though and we’ve got a tough game against Coldstream to start us off. We’re not looking any further than that – we’ll try to take care of them on Saturday and see where it takes us. A home tie is always what you want in the Scottish Cup. I’ve had the pleasure of going up to Wick before with Raith Rovers and it’s not a nice road so I don’t fancy Whitehill’s trip there!

“Personally I don’t know much about Coldstream but the manager’s had them watched the last couple of weeks and we’ve had an email on how they play and where the dangers are. We’re not taking them lightly and will know as much as we can about them. [Jack] Beesley was down watching them on Saturday and came back with a match report so we’ve done our homework. Dougie’s preparation is always brilliant. Even if a team’s an underdog, he doesn’t just leave it, we always do our homework.”

While keen to progress as far as possible in the cup, Malone admitted that the Lowland League remains the priority for the 2013/14 champions, who have won their last four. “Maybe last season we took our eye off the ball a little bit with the Scottish Cup run,” he conceded. “The league form dropped off a bit but this season it’s definitely our priority. Edinburgh City have started well again as have East Kilbride. Our main focus is staying as close to those two and trying to get into League Two as quick as possible. That’s the club’s plan. It’s important we don’t take our eye off the ball but this week all eyes are on the Scottish Cup. We’re taking each game as it comes and hopefully we can get a result on Saturday.

“We’ve got folk coming back from injuries and the squad is starting to gel. We’ve a settled formation as well – we’ve not been chopping and changing as much so all that’s helped. We signed a lot of new players so took a while to get going. We’ve still got players to come back so as the season goes we’ll get stronger. It’s all standing us in good stead.”