By Darren Weir UWS News – B00305631
Auchinleck Talbot are eyeing history in the William Hill Scottish Cup this weekend when they take on Ayr United at Beechwood Park.
‘The Bot’ have the chance to progress to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup for the first time in their history. However, standing in their way of achieving this feat is fellow Ayrshire side, Ayr United. Talbot have previously reached the fourth round of the cup once before in 2012 when they were narrowly defeated 1-0 against Hearts at Tynecastle.
Tommy Sloan’s sides Scottish Cup run has already been a success with wins against three Highland League teams in Wick Academy, Cove Rangers and Fraserburgh. Although on Saturday, Talbot will face a step up in quality when they take on local professional team Ayr United. Auchinleck defender, Neill McPherson is relishing the challenge of taking on Ayr. He said: “The players and management team are buzzing about the game and it being televised, something we obviously aren’t used to.”
“The draw was made eight weeks ago now and the game was put on the back burner as we had to maintain focus on what we can realistically win at junior level.
“But with 1700 fans turning out for us on Saturday, it’s only a game of football and anything can happen.
“As long as we put a performance in we are proud of. The pressure is on Ayr United as they are strong favourites, not us.”
Both teams have had impressive seasons so far with Auchinleck Talbot having already won silverware by clinching the West Regional League Cup with a 6-1 win over Lesmahagow Juniors.
The Auchinleck side currently sit third in the West Region Premiership – 13 points behind leaders Hurlford United with seven games in hand. Talbot go into the Scottish Cup tie in impressive form as they are currently unbeaten in 13 games and defeated local rivals Cumnock Juniors 3-1 at the weekend in the Ardagh West of Scotland Cup. Auchinleck centre-back, Neill McPherson said: “We are doing well at the moment, results wise. We may not be playing the best we can from time to time but we are finding ways to win.
“We have already won a trophy this season and we aren’t finished yet hopefully.
“In the league we have a good record but Hurlford have points on the board so we have catching up to do but we will take it a game at a time and see where we are come the end of May.
“We have another two cups, the West and Scottish, to compete for at the junior grade and we are confident we have the squad to win anything on offer but we have to perform each round to do so.
“Hopefully we are celebrating a trophy or two or three at the end of the season.”
Ayr United currently sit second in the Ladbrokes Scottish Championship – three points behind leaders Ross County with a game in hand. Ian McCall’s team have already secured a win over Ayrshire junior opposition this season when they beat Beith Juniors 3-0 in the last round of the Scottish Cup. However, the Somerset Park side go into the game with Auchinleck having not won any of their last five games.
Lawrence Shankland is also an injury concern for the Honest Men having missed Ayr’s last two league games with a calf problem. United’s star striker has scored 28 goals in 26 games this season so far and would be a huge miss against Auchinleck Talbot.
Victory for Talbot on Saturday would arguably be the biggest win in the clubs history and a massive achievement for Scottish junior football. Talbot will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Linlithgow Rose, who are the only junior team ever to reach the fifth round of the Scottish Cup in 2016.
The clubs young defender, Neill McPherson knows how big an occasion this weekends Scottish Cup tie is for the club. He said: “To go through on Saturday would be unbelievable for the players, the management, the fans, the village and also junior football.
“We have travelled over 1400 miles in the previous three rounds, beating teams where we were written off by supporters of non-league football and the bookies.
“No matter what happens on Saturday, we can be proud of what we have achieved.”
Kick-off for Saturday’s fourth round Scottish Cup tie between Auchinleck Talbot and Ayr United is 12.15pm at Beechwood Park and the game will be shown live on BBC One Scotland.