Bathgate boss concerned that side is jaded

BATHGATE boss Graeme Love admits his side are jaded ahead of tonight's Fife and Lothians Cup semi-final clash with Tranent at Creamery Park.

Bathgate played in the Super League away at Hill of Beath on Saturday and drew 2-2 then played their Fife and Lothians Cup quarter-final, again in Fife at Kirkcaldy YM, on Monday night and won 3-2.

Love said: "Our squad isn't the youngest around and to play three games so quickly leaves everyone tired and jaded."

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Tranent ply their trade two leagues below Bathgate in the South Division but Love is still wary.

He said: "It is going to be tough whoever we were playing.

"We've also been struggling with work commitments which add to the pressure.

"But it's a semi-final and a lot at stake for both sides. The pressure is on us to win as a Super League side but that would be disrespectful to Tranent, who are there on merit.

"But, if we play as we can, then we are capable of beating any side. We just can't afford to be complacent."

For both sides it's their last chance of silverware this season.

Bathgate lost out in the Super League title race to Bo'ness and went out of the Scottish Cup to eventual winners Linlithgow.

Tranent led the race for the South Division title for several months, only to be overtaken in the last two weeks by Broxburn and lose out for the second year in a row.

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The danger men for Bathgate will be striker Jim Lister, who once again is their top scorer, and Alex Lurinsky, who is giving him a run for his money by banging in plenty of goals as the season draws to a finish.

For Tranent, striker Mel Graham, who scored a hat-trick in 30 minutes in their quarter-final tie against Livingston, is one to watch.

Striker partner Paul Harvey is suspended but Graham will be a threat to the Bathgate defence, which has endured a heavy schedule while Tranent haven't had a competitive game since 15 May.

Tranent manager Brian Johnstone said: "It's mixed fortunes for us because we have Sean Lally in Australia, Paul Harvey suspended and Mark Stevenson cup-tied.

"But, on the other hand, we have keeper Sinclair Inglis back, along with Jules Anderson.

"So it looks like we'll have a strong squad to choose from and we'll go there to have a go.

"We won't be defensive that's for sure.

"It's a chance for a place in the final and our lads will be up for it.

"There has been a lot of uncertainty about when the fixture would take place and that's meant we haven't had a game for a while but we'll go there looking for the win."

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In tonight's other semi-final, Musselburgh, going for their second final of the season, are away at fellow Super League side Hill of Beath, who are struggling near the foot of the table.

Nevertheless, they will be hard to beat on their own patch and it will be a welcome relief to the Hill of Beath players to be away from the relegation battle.

Musselburgh are already in the final of the East of Scotland Cup, where they will meet Linlithgow, so another cup final appearance would make this their first season in the Super league a successful one no matter if they win silverware or not.

Manager David McGlynn, however, is only looking at winning. He feels he has the strikeforce to lift both cups with Mattu King, Ryan McCallum, Kris Renton and winger Paul Tansey all capable of winning games on their own.

They also have a strong defensive line-up with goalkeeper Kieran Renton solid at the back. It may well be a tight game and a penalty shoot-out may be required.

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