Spartans’ Ally MacKinnon enjoyed the best moment of his football career last season, netting a stoppage-time equaliser in a 1-1 William Hill Scottish Cup fifth-round draw with Berwick Rangers, and the skipper hopes to create more memories in tomorrow’s second-round encounter with Elgin City.
A 1-0 replay defeat at Shielfield Park dashed hopes of a historic quarter-final tie with Hibs at Easter Road. The Ainslie Park side travel to Borough Briggs in search of another league scalp in the famous old competition, and while MacKinnon is well aware of the difficulty, he is keen to try and repeat last year’s heroics. “Personally, that’s the top moment [scoring against Berwick] – doesn’t get much bigger,” he said. “The things that followed after it made it a bit more fun – getting interviewed on the telly and stuff like that, it was one big party. Although we were gutted to go out in the replay, we had a good run and it was way beyond what any club at our level could even imagine.
“To get so close to the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup, it’s ridiculous to think that we did that. You look back on it with great memories – I don’t think too much about losing the replay, more about the goal, the win against Morton [in the previous round] and just how close we came.
“That links back to the squad we have now – we’re a much tighter group this year, especially with having the young boys in there. We’re in a good place but we’re not underestimating Elgin by any means. They’re doing really well this season so we know it’s going to be a right tough game. Make no bones about it – the expectation is that we get put out on Saturday. On paper that should happen but to use the term ‘the romance of the cup’, it’s quite pertinent in that sense – I think we have the players to go up there and take a scalp. Elgin will be thinking the same – they’re playing at a higher level week in, week out but I’m excited to see what happens.”
Spartans have form for Scottish Cup runs, and although MacKinnon feels the club has an affinity with the competition, their priority remains the Lowland League. “We’ve had a couple of great runs and it’s great to have the relationship with the Scottish Cup,” said MacKinnon, a teacher. “Being a part of it, for a part-time footballer not playing in the pro leagues it’s so exciting – it does make your season really special, especially last season when we didn’t have a great league campaign. I think people now see Spartans as a bigger club because of what we’ve done in the Scottish Cup.
“The league takes precedence though. That’s where we make the difference as a club – to win the league and get a chance of getting into the SPFL. We’re not looking to choose one or the other – we’re very much in both cup and league.”