Whitehill head into tomorrow’s South Challenge Cup semi-final against Civil Service Strollers without a host of first-team regulars, making an already difficult game even tougher, according to manager Mickey Lawson.
Welfare went down 4-2 at home to Vale of Leithen on Wednesday night and saw captain Andrew Kidd dismissed late on for a second booking. With others already suspended for tomorrow’s clash, coupled with injuries, Lawson knows his team will require a performance to reach the final.
“We’ll just need to pick ourselves up” he said. “We’re hoping that Andrew Kidd is available after he was sent off, but it was just two bookings so hopefully he is because we’re short on Saturday. In the quarter-final John Hall and Wayne Sproule were sent off so they’re missing. I also didn’t realise that if you pick up two bookings through the rounds of this competition you miss the next game so Wayne McIntosh misses the semi as well. We’re down to about 11 players, plus about two or three of the Under-20s laddies.”
Lawson had has had to rely on several of the club’s U-20 players in recent weeks to complete his squad, but by no means sees that as a negative. One positive from Wednesday night’s defeat was the performance of James Flynn off the bench, and the youngster has every chance of starting tomorrow.
“Young James Flynn got his goal first goal for the club and he’s started two or three games. Kerr Dodds is now out for the season and it looks like Kyle Quinn and John-Ross Kerr are too so we’ve got about 14 plus the U-20s but they’ve all come in and done really well,” said Lawson.
“James did well when came on in Wednesday and took his goal well and was unlucky not to score on other games. He may start depending on injuries but he started down at Gretna when we won 4-0 so there’s no problem with that at all.”
Whitehill have been tested by East of Scotland opposition in the form of Tynecastle and Ormiston already this season, and Lawson expects similar from Strollers tomorrow.
“If they’ve got to the semi-final of the South of Scotland Challenge Cup they’re not a bad side,” he said. “I’m not saying East of Scotland teams have a chip on their shoulder, but the Lowland League sides sort of left them so they have all the motivation they want.
“You saw an upset with Edinburgh City and all Leith Athletic so there’s no way our boys will be taking it lightly. I went to see Strollers down at Coldstream when they won 3-1 and thought they were very good. Our ex-player Scott Gormley scored a really good goal and he has pace to burn. They’ll be underdogs with nothing to lose.”
Civil Service will be without manager Ross McNeil in the dugout tomorrow, as he is on holiday in Tenerife. Assistant Colin Tomassi will take charge and is relishing a big match at Marine Drive.
“Ross is pretty gutted to be missing it but it’s unavoidable” said Tomassi. “It’s a great thing for the club, a semi-final against a big club in Whitehill, so we’re looking forward to it.
“It’s going to be very tough – they’ve got a lot of good players. They’ve maybe got one or two out, but it’s still going to be tough. We’ll be giving them all respect, but we won’t go in fearing them - we’ve got a a lot of good young players and it’s a platform for them to go and show they can play against better teams.”