Junior Cup pits holders against best of the west

LINLITHGOW ROSE take the next step in the defence of their Scottish Junior Cup crown when they welcome Clydebank, the club that refused to die.

The tie of the round, tomorrow's game at Prestonfield, kick-off 2.00pm, is sure to be a tough test of manager Dave Baikie's Rose side.

"This is the tie nobody wanted," he admitted. "It's going to be a real test of our character. In the past few seasons they have played more Scottish Cup ties than ourselves. They are building a super pedigree in the Scottish."

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Clydebank, since they dropped out of the Senior ranks due to financial problems before being reborn as a Junior side in 2003, have built a side to be feared. They have been playing at Yoker Athletic's ground in recent times but it is their support which gives them an added lift. Vocal in the extreme, they are a welcome revenue source for their fellow clubs. In the past few seasons they have beaten teams like Pollok and Auchinleck in the Cup so big sides hold no fears for them.

Their last match, against Kilwinning Rangers in the West Super League, ended 2-2 and top scorer Stevie Dallas was on target with a second-half strike. The Bankies are top of the Super League after ten games.

And there is a connection between the clubs, for Linlithgow star Tommy Coyne's father, Tommy senior, started out in professional football at Clydebank in 1981. The 21st-century Clydebank were beaten Junior Cup finalists two seasons ago and reached last year's semi-final only to fall to Largs whom Linlithgow beat in the final at Rugby Park.

Despite the visitors' obvious pedigree, though, Baikie is eager for the fray and promised: "A real Scottish Cup tie and one the fans will enjoy."

And he went on: "Clydebank won't be looking forward to coming here. Teams coming here know they are in for a hard game and prepare themselves for it. Because we're the Cup holders, teams always raise their game when they play us. It's something we have to deal with. Saturday's game though will need no extra motivation.

"We have the usual suspects on the injured list. Gordon Herd, Scott Wilson and Mark Bradley are all out with long term knocks.

"We have a good squad though with John Adam finally getting things sorted out as he fights for fitness again after a period out working. He has a daft shift pattern and can't make our training so we've fixed him up with St Mirren. He got 20 minutes last week but still has a way to go to get back to full fitness."

This is the game many Junior supporters would have liked to be the final. However, it wasn't to be. What it does mean is that one of the favourites will exit the competition in the second round. Linlithgow are a proud club who will not give up the ~title without a huge fight.

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The players, like Rose keeper Steve Pinkowski, know the rewards for success and will be all out to retain the trophy. He said: "It's the start of what we hope will be another long road to the final. Last season was terrific and we all want a repeat. I've been very lucky with the Scottish and hope it continues.

"Being the holders though puts added pressure on the side. Hopefully though with the players having been over the course before that experience will help.

"Clydebank are one of the teams we didn't want to meet at this stage but to be the best, you have to beat the best. The Scottish has always been the trophy to win and Linlithgow have been successful in recent years."

"To be the best, you have to beat the best. The Scottish has always been the trophy to win"