By Jordan Robertson.
Auchinleck Talbot striker Mark Shankland insists the Junior side are not worried about Ayr’s on form players ahead of Saturday’s Ayrshire Derby.
A sell out crowd is expected at Beechwood Park on Saturday to witness one of the most interesting ties of the Scottish Cup 4th round as Auchinleck take on Championship high flyers Ayr United.
The local derby game has generated a real buzz around Ayrshire and fans have been purchasing tickets in their thousands.
Beechwood Park, which has a capacity of 3100, is expected to be completely sold out and the game, which kicks off at 12.15 on January 19, will also be broadcast live on national television which will give neutrals a chance to watch this fascinating spectacle.
Ian McCall’s Ayr United side have been one of the surprise packages of the season and striker Lawrence Shankland has been one of the most prolific players in the country.
The 23 year old has scored 28 goals in 26 games and has been linked with several big money moves as a result. However, boss Ian McCall has insisted several times that Shankland is going nowhere.
Despite this, Auchinleck Talbot attacker Mark Shankland is not worried about his namesake. He said: “We are not worried about individuals. We obviously know about the threat they have going forward with Shankland, Moffat, Moore and others but I don’t think you can start to worry about anyone before a game.
“We are just focused on the game.”
Fans have taken to social media to voice how pleased they are at the tie, with many stating the benefits to Auchinleck Talbot and to the community as a whole. Shankland, who made 25 appearances for Ayr United before signing for Talbot, shares these views and he admits that he is delighted with the tie and feels the occasion will be beneficial for the junior club. He said: “I think it is important because of the occasion that it is.
“It’s the Senior Scottish Cup, it’s on the TV and it’s against a local side so it will help the club financially too.”
Despite being a Junior side, Auchinleck are no strangers to playing in the big occasions. The club are regulars in the Scottish Junior Cup Final and are currently the defending champions.
‘The Bot’ defeated Hurlford in last seasons final which was held at Rugby Park in front of almost 5000 spectators but Shankland insists that the Talbot side are just focusing on the game itself rather than the interest surrounding it. Shankland said: “Speaking personally, I just block everything out and just play and focus on the game when I’m on the pitch.
“The cameras and big crowds may play on some peoples minds but I don’t think anyone will worry about it too much.”
The visitors arrive at Beechwood Park having failed to win in five games but are still 1/6 favourites with the bookmakers.
Talbot are heavy underdogs, but Shankland feels that this will allow the Junior side to play without fear. He said: “Everyone can’t wait for the game.
“There is no pressure on us so we can just go out and play our game which will be strange as we are usually going into games as favourites so it will be different this time around.
“With a bit of luck on our side on the day you just never know what can happen.”