Spartans cup agony could work either way – Kirk

Preston Athletic boss Willie Kirk
Preston Athletic boss Willie Kirk
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PRESTON ATHLETIC host Spartans in the Lowland League this evening and Panners boss Willie Kirk believes their opponents’ reaction to last Tuesday’s William Hill Scottish Cup loss at Berwick could go either way.

A 1-0 fifth-round replay defeat at Shielfield Park meant there was to be no dream quarter-final tie with Hibs for the Ainslie Park club. Kirk thinks that could either inspire or hinder them at the Pennypt tonight.

“I think it could go both ways. to be honest” said Kirk. “We could face a backlash or you could say that’s their season probably finished. I don’t think they’ll win the league and now they’re out the Scottish Cup which seemed to be keeping them going so it could work either way. It’s just unfortunate the game didn’t go ahead on Saturday as it’s given them three days extra rest after a tough game on the Tuesday but that’s just the circumstances.”

The East Lothian club left Ainslie Park with all three points in December’s return fixture when goals from Dale O’Hara and Jack McIntyre gave them a deserved 2-0 win. Kirk will be drawing on that result ahead of tonight’s clash.

“We’ll definitely be using it as belief. We didn’t get a chance to build on that result the last time but certainly our last four performances have been very positive even though they’ve only resulted in one win and one draw. But performances have been really good. We’re hitting a bit of decent form so we’re looking forward to it.”

Kirk is glad to have a game on home turf after last week’s game with Edinburgh Uni was switched to Peffermill.

“There’s been quite a lot of work done on the pitch. It’s certainly not Wembley, but there has been a lot of work done on it so it should be better tonight – although that will be weather dependent. I’ve had a couple of texts about pitch inspections so we’re not certain if it will go ahead.

“The two Hearts lads (Liam Henderson and Alistair Roy) are missing tonight because Hearts U20s have got a game so that’s disappointing but, apart from that, we’ve pretty much a clean bill of health.”