Arniston players told to prove they can cut it against the big boys

HOMELESS Arniston Rangers take on Junior giants Linlithgow Rose in the East of Scotland Cup tomorrow feeling they have a point to prove since they dropped out of the top division.

Linlithgow are the Super League leaders but the East of Scotland Cup is the second biggest competition after the Scottish Junior Cup and gives Premier League Arniston a massive incentive.

Arniston manager Brian McNaughton said: "It's a huge game for us and an opportunity to see just how far we've come since we dropped out of the Super League.

"On our day we're a decent side but it's all about being consistent. It's a game all the players are looking forward to and, if they're not then they shouldn't be playing here.

"It's a while since we played Linlithgow but everyone at the club is relishing the chance to turn them over."

The Gorebridge club will play the game at Musselburgh Athletic's Olivebank ground with a 1.45pm kick-off and McNaughton added: "We won't have the home advantage we are used to.

"Musselburgh has a good playing surface but I'm not sure if that's an advantage or not against a side like Linlithgow.

"Games like this should bring a tingle to the players and it will give them a chance to see what standard we have to achieve every week."

Andy Donlevy misses the game for Arniston as he's at a wedding but McNaughton, barring any last-minute training injuries, has an otherwise full squad to choose from.

Rose boss Brian Fairley is hoping to add a midfielder with senior football experience to his squad in time for the game.

He has also signed Murray McDowell from Kelty Hearts and he is in the squad for tomorrow's game. All Fairley's other players are fit and raring to go.

Skipper Mark Bradley will be playing only his second game back from injury and could prove to be an influential figure in midfield for Rose.

Already out of the Scottish Cup, Linlithgow have responded with good performances and Fairley is looking for that to continue.

He said: "I said last week that I saw in our games a return to the old Linlithgow spirit and we are hoping it is to the fore again tomorrow.

"It's not right yet but we are getting it back every week now. The spirit is gradually returning and, in the last two games, it has been a joy to watch. It's not perfect yet but the signs are good.

"This is a huge trophy to win and one we would love to get our hands on.

"It will be a really hard game for us because Arniston will be up for it. They have nothing to lose and Brian will have them motivated.

"They will be well organised and work as a team and we know just how dangerous they can be.

"We know what to expect when we're playing Arniston – it doesn't matter if they are a Premier League side now, the game won't be any different from those in the past. We will have to be just as prepared as them. Hopefully it's a good game for the supporters and everybody comes home happy."

Fixtures between the sides in the past have thrown up some cracking games with plenty of surprises.

Always attractive but never predictable there are usually plenty of goals and goalmouth incidents.

There have been games in the past where one side was strongly fancied only to fail miserably but Linlithgow cannot afford to lose this one.

Being out of the Scottish Cup and with expectations at the club so high every season, to drop out of the second biggest trophy in Junior football would be a nightmare. Arniston on the other hand have nothing to fear.

They are probably not expected to win but will come out fighting.

A win for them would give their season a tremendous lift and inject some confidence into a side who, in the last couple of seasons, have flirted with relegation to the South Division.