South Challenge Cup semi-final: Why Spartans have an extra incentive to beat Bonnyrigg Rose

Spartans boss Dougie Samuel fully expects Bonnyrigg Rose to enter Tuesday’s South Challenge Cup semi-final clash at Ainslie Park (7.45pm) with all guns blazing but reckons that just makes them a bigger scalp.

Monday, 11th April 2022, 7:56 pm
Updated Monday, 11th April 2022, 10:57 pm

The Edinburgh side won the competition three times in a row from 2009 to 2011 but haven’t reached the final since. It now represents the last chance for Spartans to pick up silverware this season, and the opportunity to beat the Lowland League champions and reach the final provides added incentive.

Rose have bigger fish to fry with pyramid play-off matches to look forward to this month, but Samuel knows that won’t make things any easier even though the teams drew 2-2 when they last met in the league.

Heaping praise on opposite number Robbie Horn for what he has achieved this season, he said: “They’ll want to do a double. Robbie has been rotating his squad for a couple of weeks and they keep winning. There’s a hunger and winning mentality about his squad that’s been created over a number of years.

Spartans manager Dougie Samuel knows the South Challenge Cup is his team's last chance of silverware. Picture: Mark Brown

“Robbie, his staff and the players deserve a great deal of credit for that. Some people say they grind it out, but that is unfair. They are serial winners.

“You’ve got to give them all the plaudits in the world because of what they have achieved in a really difficult Lowland League. To win it with games to spare takes some doing.

“I think they were averaging 2.95 points per game after 32 games. That is phenomenal. It has been a stunning achievement. Does it make them a big scalp? Definitely.”

Bonnyrigg forward Sean Brown is cup tied after playing for Spartans earlier in the same competition. But Kieran McGachie could return from injury after being named on the bench on Saturday.

Honours were even between Bonnyrigg and Spartans when they met in the league in January. Picture: Joe Gilhooley LRPS

Spartans midfielder Ian MacFarland is suspended and winger Cammy Russell has been ruled out with concussion.

“We’re a little bit stretched, which has been the story of our season, but we’ll not have any other thought other than to win a semi-final at home in the biggest cup competition we play for,” added Samuel.

“This is a great opportunity to finish the season on a high. Our season comes down to this.”

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