Civil Service Strollers set up a “mini derby” with League Two leaders Edinburgh City in the second round of the William Hill Scottish Cup – and Civil captain and former City player Mark McConnell can’t wait.
Civil overcame Highland League club Forres Mechanics 2-1 in their first-round replay on home turf thanks to goals from Alieu Faye and Steven Froude, with their reward being a short trip to Ainslie Park on October 20. McConnell, who played his part in City’s rise to the SPFL before leaving for Bonnyrigg Rose after their inaugural campaign, is already counting down the days to the renewal later this month.
“It’s going to be massive,” said McConnell. “It’s sort of a mini derby, although they maybe won’t see it like that.
“A few of the boys, including myself, used to play with them so it will be good. Just to get to the next round is great. There was a stat, something like we had only got past the first round something like six times previously.
“I know John Dunn and Calum Antell – they were there when I was there. Josh Walker and Marc Laird came in during our first season in the league, but apart from that I don’t know too many of them. We know they have a lot of quality.
“We’ve got a tough run in the league coming up between now and then so we’ll take it as a wee break from the league.”
McConnell has been given a new lease of life at Civil under former City boss Gary Jardine. After making his loan move from Bonnyrigg permanent over the summer, he was handed the armband, and believes it has taken his game up a level.
“I hadn’t played much football for a year, as the new manager at Bonnyrigg came in about September and I didn’t get much game time. The year before at City I didn’t play much football the second half of the season, so it was almost like a year of getting a game here and there.
“Gary came here, he knew me from my time at City and offered me the chance to come here and get a smile on my face again. When it came to the end of the season, there was no question I wasn’t going to sign here.
“During pre-season we were rotating the armband, then I got given it against Stirling Uni and he just said ‘It’s yours to lose’, and I’ve just had it ever since. I’m relishing it.”
Striker Froude had the ball in the net for the hosts after 16 minutes, only to be flagged for offside. Civil looked nervy in the opening period, and they gave away a penalty on the half-hour mark when Faye sent Forres defender Ross Macpherson over in the box. Alan Pollock stepped up but Kyle Rankin saved his effort.
Kyle Fee’s last-ditch sliding tackle prevented a certain Forres goal as the visitors began to exert control, before Scott Clipperton cleared off the line.
The home side were lucky not to go in behind at the break, but they started the second half like a different side, with Faye’s effort crashing off the underside of the bar from Froude’s cross.
Faye made up for that miss on 65 minutes when he rounded goalkeeper Stuart Knight and rolled the ball into the unguarded net to spark wild celebrations as he found himself at the foot of a pile up of Civil players.
Froude got their second after beating the offside trap, strolling in on Knight and rolling the ball under the keeper.
Aidan Wilson pulled one back to set up a tense finale but Civil held firm.
Civil boss Jardine is looking forward to going up against his former club, he said: “It will be mixed emotions going back to City. I was there for 15 years and it’s a club I probably support now to be honest. It’s the first result I look for. It will be nice to see some old friends.”
Meanwhile, Whitehill Welfare lost out 2-0 away from home to Cumbernauld Colts in Lowland League action, with the Ferguson Park club four points adrift at the foot of the table.
Civil Service Strollers: Rankin, Churchill (Hopkinson), Mair, Laird, Turnbull, Fee, McConnell, Clapperton (Newalls), Froude, Ballantyne, Faye (Hainey)
Forres Mechanics: Knight, Johnstone, Macpherson, Fraser, Groat (Wilson), Milne, Pollock (Allan), Macrae, Duncanson (Moore), Howarth, Soane