CRITICS of the current Scottish Cup format are sure to be on their collective high horse when they debate today’s schedule.
Only four of the eight sections will feature matches with any meaning, the other group winners having already booked their slots in the quarter finals – Arbroath, Stoneywood-Dyce, Drumpellier and Aberdeenshire.
The game of the day is unquestionably the Pool H showdown at Hamilton Crescent, where West of Scotland host Carlton.
The visitors will go into battle with their noses in front, but only by dint of their superior run rate and, with eight points apiece, it is a winner takes all match.
Carlton will also be boosted by the return of Scotland skipper Preston Mommsen – though West will be eager to make ground advantage count.
There is also an intriguing situation in Group F, where Ferguslie could step up their revival by pipping Heriot’s for a ticket to the knock-out phase.
That will happen if the Paisley outfit triumph at Falkland and the Goldenacre troops tumble at the hands of Dumfries at Nunholm. Ferguslie’s Jamey Carruthers said: “We are all very excited about this weekend and what it could lead to.
“Obviously, we are relying on things to go our way elsewhere, but we need to keep our focus on beating Falkland.
“Things have been looking up for the club. We have some excellent young talent and our pro, Keith Dabengwa, has done some great work. He has improved fitness levels and has the knack of getting the best out of the less experienced guys.
“We fancy ourselves to beat anyone on our day and we have established some consistency.”
In Group A, Clydesdale hold a single-point lead over East Kilbride.
Both are on home turf against SMRH and West Lothian respectively and the pressure will be on the Titwood brigade to hold their nerve.
Dale manager Colin Mitchell said: “We will have skipper Majid Haq back in harness following his exploits for Scotland against Kenya at Aberdeen.
“In addition, it is great to have Zeeshan Bashir around again. Apart from his batting and bowling talents, his enthusiasm off the pitch is always infectious.”
Renfrew are still in with a chance of claiming a shock place in the quarter-final, but they would need a convincing margin of victory over Grange at Raeburn Place to leapfrog them by snuffing out the run-rate advantage.
But, as every cricket fan is aware after events at Trent Bridge, anything is possible.