QUEEN of the South player/manager James Fowler has warned Rangers that the Doonhamers are not in the play-offs just to make up the numbers.
The Dumfries club host Stuart McCall’s side in Saturday’s quarter-final first leg at Palmerston and will bid to rack up a third successive home win over their Glasgow rivals this season.
Queens are widely regarded as a long shot for promotion to the Premiership, but Fowler, the former Kilmarnock midfielder, insists his side are more than capable of upsetting the odds – just like Hamilton did last year.
He said: “At the start of the season, our target was the top four and now we’ve got there, we don’t want to go through the motions and say that’s us done our job.
“We’ve got a chance of progressing through, although we know it’s going to be difficult with all the games in a short space of time and with the size of squad we have.
“But Hamilton showed last year that anything can happen. If you have momentum and confidence, you can get at these big teams and the pressure shifts to them sometimes.
Hamilton showed last year that anything can happen.James Fowler
“We’ve shown this season that we can compete well against Rangers and Hibernian. So, if we can get through the Rangers game, we’ll look forward to Hibs as well.”
Queens have already beaten Rangers 2-0 and 3-0 on their artificial surface at Palmerston, but Fowler reckons opposition teams have been guilty of worrying too much about the pitch. He said: “I think sometimes mentally for other teams coming, players maybe don’t like the surface as much.
“It’s an excellent surface for playing football, and, in terms of one-off games, I don’t think it should be an issue for the teams coming. We enjoy the surface and we’ve got home advantage.
“Rangers will have 50,000 fans at Ibrox, so that’s an advantage for them. We’re within the rules in terms of the surface we’re using. It’s not like we’re doing anything against the rules. If we can use anything to our advantage, then we’ll do that, but a lot is made of it.”
Fowler admits he is planning to make sure that Rangers are playing catch-up when it comes to the second leg. He said: “We’re at home first, so we’ll, hopefully, take an advantage to Ibrox and then put pressure on Rangers. We know it’s going to be tough, but it’s a challenge we’re up for and looking forward to.
“I don’t know if we’re the favourites. Rangers have been on a good run recently. We’re at home and we have had a decent record against them. As a group, we’ll take confidence from the results and performances we’ve had against them. I wouldn’t mind if we manage to get a two or a 3-0 lead to go to Ibrox with.”