Linlithgow Rose captain Mark Tyrrell has been forced to watch on from the sidelines for much of their William Hill Scottish Cup journey so far.
A mixture of injury and unavailability due to changing jobs, added to the form of Rose right-back Gary Thom, has left experienced defender Tyrrell a frustrated spectator, desperate to get involved.
He’s in line to make his first start in the competition tonight as the Prestonfield club travel to Station Park to take on League One outfit Forfar Athletic in their fourth-round replay, with Thom ruled out through suspension after being sent-off in the enthralling 3-3 clash.
Rose have the chance to write themselves into the record books by being the first Junior outfit to reach the last 16, with the small matter of an away trip to Premiership Ross County awaiting the victors.
Tyrrell admits the notion of a Junior outfit being in the last 16 is a strange one, but the 32-year-old is determined to make sure it’s Linlithgow Rose that can claim that little slice of history.
“I was delighted Ross County won; it would be the biggest tie we’d ever been involved in if we were to get through,” said Tyrrell. “It would certainly be something to look forward too. You couldn’t make it up, we could’ve probably known we were going to get Ross County or Inverness with the way the draw has been and the amount of travelling we’ve done. Playing against a Premiership team would be great occasion for the club.
“It would be strange saying that a Junior team was in the last 16 of the senior Scottish Cup – it feels dead late on in the competition. We’ll go up there and give it our best and hopefully we can get the result.”
Tyrrell was introduced as a substitute at Prestonfield in the original tie with just under 40 minutes remaining as Rose trailed 3-1 – manager David McGlynn switching to a back three as the West Lothian club had nothing to lose against their League One opponents. The go for broke decision paid off as goal apiece from Jamie MacKenzie and Graham Weir within a minute of each other levelled the tie.
The former Stenhousemuir and East Stirling defender, who celebrated his ninth year at Prestonfield in December, felt they were slightly unlucky not to complete the comeback and go through on the day and hopes Forfar will still be thinking about how they threw a two-goal lead away when they do battle this evening.
He said: “The way the game panned out we were a wee bit disappointed not to win the game, even though we were 3-1 down with ten men. I got the call to go and warm up when Gary got sent off and that was 2-1 at the time. As soon as I started warming up they made it 3-1 and I thought ‘He won’t put me on now as I’m a defender and we’re two down’ but no, he put me on and we went to a back three. He basically just said ‘We’re out anyway so we’ll go for it.’ When I came on we didn’t feel under any pressure, it looked as if we had the extra man at times.
“They probably never thought we would attack them the way we did. It was two quick goals and then after that the game evened itself out.
“We know we’re still underdogs. We just need to show the same attitude that we did in the first game and hopefully with a bit of luck we’ll get the win. Hopefully the thought that they had the tie won will be in their mindsets.”
Rose will head to Station Park quietly confident that they can get the job done to continue their fairytale run in the competition on the basis of their unlikely comeback and the fact that Forfar have won just one of their last 16 matches – a 2-1 triumph over Queen’s Park in the last round at the start of December.
If Rose are to beat Gary Bollan’s men though they’ll have to do it without Thom as well as Ruari MacLennan and Chris Gray who miss out having each picked up a second booking in the competition in the original tie, therefore incurring a one-game suspension.
Tyrrell believes the loss of influential midfielder MacLennan is massive for Rose, he added: “Ruari has been the main man this season; he’s been absolutely different class. I wouldn’t be surprised if people watching the game were wondering how Ruari and Jamie MacKenzie aren’t playing senior to be honest.”
Entry for tonight’s match, which kicks off at 7.30pm, is £10 for adults and £5 for concessions.