Penicuik take centre stage in Junior Cup

ONE week on from Linlithgow Rose's historic win in the Scottish Cup and the Junior scene is back in the spotlight again as the Citylink Scottish Junior Cup gets underway. And this time it's Penicuik who catch the eye with their home clash against Irvine Meadow.

The Midlothian side have only reached the final of the prestigious competition once, in 1970, when they were beaten after a replay by Blantyre Victoria.

This year they will have to do it the hard way if they are even to emulate that achievement, as they face a West Super League team regarded as the "big spenders" of Ayrshire, an outfit already tipped to be amongst the favourites for the trophy.

Manager Willie McGinley is quietly confident he can cause a real upset, however. "On paper this is the East Region tie of the round and it's a cracker," he said. "If we were honest, we wish this game was past and out of the way because the League is our priority. The Scottish though, has that special buzz about it. It's a chance to play sides you've never played before and the big crowds add an atmosphere."

While he doesn't mind pulling a plum tie, McGinley just wishes his side could make more of the occasion. "We played Carnoustie the year after they won the cup, then we drew Linlithgow away and last year we had Bonnyrigg in a real thriller. We lost all three games. This time round we're confident we've learned a lot," he explained.

"I would have been more confident if we had a full squad to choose from because Scott Gibb and Brian Ryrie are definitely out with Mark Cowan and Kevin Milne doubtful. Make no mistake, we're the underdogs - but that's how we like it."

The Penicuik Park boss has a sufficiently good selection of players who will feature, though, to give him hope come 3pm tomorrow. "Players like Martin Cameron, Mark Cowan and Kevin Milne have played in huge games at this level and they want that to continue. On Saturday it will be eleven against eleven on the pitch and we'll give them a real game of it. They watched us last Saturday and we turned on the style with a good win at home, so they know what to expect."

Just how hard Penicuik's task will be is highlighted by some of the big guns in the Irvine Meadow side. Brian McGinty, the ex-St Mirren striker, was picked up pre season, Dougie Ramsay and Shaun Dillon were both signed from Stranraer while Andy Essler, Gary McPhee and Derek Wyngate, ex-Stranraer as well, all featured in the recent Scotland Junior squad for the match against Ireland.

At club level "The Meadow" haven't been performing as well as was expected though, with some poor results in a mixed bag of games played.

This gives Penicuik more than a ray of hope, for several of the Irvine players are injured, including McPhee who took a bad knock in the international.

Penicuik do of course have key players who can turn a game on their own. Cameron is a handful for any defence and Milne will not wish to miss out on this one . He has a huge amount of experience and is a player who can mix it with anyone.

The last word though should be left to manager McGinley, who said of the club that only returned to the scene in 2002: "We have home advantage, we have the crowd, we have the players , we have the backroom staff and finally we have the fight in us to win this game and go on a run. We can do it and give something back to the supporters who have backed us all the way since we came back into Junior football."

• PENICUIK are willing to listen to offers for Keith Salton and anyone interested should contact the club.

Juniors team talk

Scottish Cup first round

LINLITHGOW boss Jim Sinnet has reported a full squad for their trip to LARGS.

WHITBURN head for Ayrshire to face ARDEER and have Kenny Hannah on holiday, Andy Roberts suspended and Alan Flanagan doubtful.

BLACKBURN boss Mark Campbell has everyone fit for the visit of West Super League side MARYHILL, a match-up which will be a real tester for the West Lothian side.

FAULDHOUSE take a full pool of players up to Tayside and the game against FORFAR WEST END, leaders of the Premier League.

WEST CALDER have Michael McInally and Russell Browning injured for their match in Perthshire against KINNOULL.

NEWTONGRANGE STAR have Grant Meaney suffering a leg knock but he should make the starting line-up to face Highland side FORRES THISTLE.

PUMPHERSTON manager Steve Pittman reports a near full pool for the visit of DUNDEE VIOLET.

STONEYBURN play host to Perthshire side LUNCARTY and have a full squad bolstered by several trialists, who have now signed.

ARNISTON will be without the suspended duo of Mark Ellis and Paul McLuskey for the clash with THORNIEWOOD.

The draw has unearthed an East region derby in HARTHILL v DALKEITH, and both sides report everyone fit.

Super League

Struggling BONNYRIGG have a couple of players carrying knocks but they should make this vital league game against West Fifers OAKLEY.

BATHGATE are bound for the wild west - of Dundee at any rate - for a showdown with LOCHEE UNITED and the Creamery Park side have Graeme Love and Scott Bannerman doubtful.

Premier league

Basement side ARMADALE head for ROSYTH with John Black still out but John Martin may be back in contention. The Fifers of DUNDONALD BLUEBELL play host to BO'NESS UNITED, who report a full squad.

South League

EDINBURGH UNITED have three players carrying knocks ahead of the home clash with HADDINGTON but the visitors are down to the bare bones with Lloyd Richardson, Mark Kelly and Michael Motion all doubtful with Kevin Murray on holiday. David Anderson returns.

It's TRANENT v LIVINGSTON and both sides have near enough full pools.