Call off the search parties – we’re back folks! Most teams from your GeoSonic Lowland League are in Scottish Cup action and we’ve got previews of all of them as our writers get to grips with some Highland League teams, and Spartans welcome East Kilbride to Ainslie Park as the top two go head to head in the clash of the week!
GeoSonic Lowland League
The Spartans vs East Kilbride
Dougie Samuel’s reigning champions welcome Brian Kerr’s resurgent East Kilbride to Ainslie Park this weekend knowing that their visitors have a game in hand and will be looking to reclaim their place at the top of the Lowland League table.
Spartans were disappointed to be dumped out of the South Challenge Cup last week against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale while Kilby put themselves through to the next round with a win over Bo’ness United. With Spartans looking to bounce back on their artificial surface and Kilby looking to build on their first win in three games, this one is all set up to be another Lowland League classic between two of the division’s strongest sides.
Craig Malcolm and Ross McNeil have scored six goals each this season, well over half of East Kilbride’s total this season. Interestingly Spartans have scored one more goal but have been sharing them around this season with their top scorers Jack Smith and Jason Stevens both sitting on three. Jamie Dishington, the Spartans youth product who many have been tipping as their player of the season so far (is it too early for that?) is sitting on two and will be hoping to add to his tally on Saturday.
Both sides will see this as a must-win. With Kelty Hearts and Civil Service Strollers both breathing down their necks, neither manager will want to leave Ainslie Park with a draw. If you’re not already heading to a Scottish Cup First Round Match, get yourself along to this one because there are going to be fireworks.
Ones To Watch
Spartans: Jamie Dishington
East Kilbride: Ross McNeil
William Hill Scottish Cup First Round
BURNTISLAND SHIPYARD VS CUMBERNAULD COLTS
East of Scotland outfit Burntisland Shipyard welcome Lowland League high flyers Cumbernauld Colts to Recreation Park on Saturday.
Both sides come into the game on the back of solid wins in the South Challenge Cup. Shippy defeated Hawick Royal Albert 3-0 last weekend with Callum McAuley scoring a brace whilst Colts overcame Arniston Rangers 4-0.
Burntisland endured a difficult start to their campaign after failing to pick up a point in their EoS Qualifying Cup group after defeats to Dunipace, Musselburgh Athletic and Preston Athletic. They have also lost all three league matches so far, but have had more success in cup competitions.
Shipyard made their way to this tie after defeating Golspie Sutherland 4-1 in the first preliminary round before Girvan were beaten 1-0 to book their place in the first round. Cumbernauld will come into the game as favourites and will hope that having a taste of EoS opposition last weekend and winning 4-0 with a rotated squad will stand them in good stead for this encounter.
Fraser Team netted again last weekend and Stephen O’Neill scored an excellent free kick as Cumbernauld hope to get past the first round, which they failed to do for the first time last season. Expect plenty of goals as Burntisland’s last four Scottish Cup ties have seen the ball hit the net 27 times.
Ones to watch
Burntisland Shipyard: Ross Lennie
Cumbernauld Colts: Fraser Team
FORRES MECHANICS VS CIVIL SERVICE STROLLERS
Fourth in the Highland League meet fourth in the Lowland League at Mosset Park on Saturday.
The Cans come into the match on the back of two consecutive defeats, at the hands of Fraserburgh (1-2) and Rothes (1-3). They currently sit on 21 points after 10 games, six points behind league leaders Cove Rangers.
In last year’s competition they went out at the first hurdle against Fraserburgh but had better fortunes in 2016-17. Wins over Lossiemouth and Cumbernauld Colts set up a tie against Stenhousemuir. Forres held Stenny to a 2-2 draw but were defeated 3-1 in the replay at Ochilview.
Strollers tasted cup success last week with a 5-0 victory over Upper Annandale in the South Challenge Cup, continuing their impressive start to the season under the management of Gary Jardine. The Christie Gillies Park men reached the second round last season after beating Strathspey Thistle 2-1 in Round One, but were undone by Brora Rangers with a 5-0 loss.
Ones to watch
Forres Mechanics: Stuart Soane
Civil Service Strollers: Ross Guthrie
WHITEHILL WELFARE VS EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY
An all Lowland League clash at Rosewell where a win could really spark both teams’ seasons into life.
Rooted to the foot of the Lowland League table with only one win from their opening eight games, a cup run could be the springboard to kick start Welfare’s season. Crashed out of the South Challenge Cup last Saturday after a 1-0 defeat at home to Gretna 2008.
Whitehill went out at this stage last season but were unlucky not to go through in a close 1-0 loss away to Nairn County of the Highland League.
Dorian Ogunro’s side are currently 12th in the table having a mixed start to their campaign. Suffered a 5-1 reverse at the hands of University of Stirling a fortnight ago, but bounced back with a solid 2-0 victory over Oakley United last time out. Reached the second round last season, beating Lossiemouth 2-1 after a late Ross Guthrie winner, but were then put out by Fraserburgh 2-0.
Ones to watch
Whitehill Welfare: Scott Lucas
Edinburgh University: Santeri Kuivalainen
GRETNA 2008 VS VALE OF LEITHEN
There are three Scottish Cup fixtures this weekend that are Lowland against Lowland and one is 14th place Gretna 2008 hosting 8th place Vale of Leithen.
Last year in the tournament both teams suffered defeats in the opening round; Gretna at the hands of a massive 4-0 away loss to Selkirk while Vale went endured a 3-0 defeat against Spartans.
The Raydale side will be hoping to continue good form however as they’re coming off a 1-0 victory against Whitehill Welfare last weekend in the South Challenge Cup. On the flip side, despite a strong start to their league campaign, Vale lost 4-2 at home to East of Scotland side, Jeanfield Swifts.
A win for either time will be huge and a most likely boost of morale for the squad as both teams exited the South Challenge Cup so early on.
Ones to watch
Gretna 2008: Ashley Kelly
Vale of Leithen: Sean Stewart
GALA FAIRYDEAN ROVERS VS LOSSIEMOUTH
In one of the many Lowland vs Highland games this weekend, Gala got lucky and stayed at home to host Lossiemouth who sit 17th in the Highland League table above lowly Fort William.
Last season, Lossiemouth lost 2-1 to Edinburgh University in the first round of the Scottish Cup and given their poor showing in their league, it’s the Netherdale side that are surely going in as favourites.
However, Dean Shanks’ men don’t have great history with Highland clubs as they exited in the first round last year after losing 2-0 to Keith at home. To add to their losses, they suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to Musselburgh Athletic in the South Challenge Cup and will be desperate to show what they can do as Lossiemouth come to town.
Ones to watch
Gala Fairydean Rovers: Sean mckirdy
Lossiemouth: Aaron Hamilton
UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING VS KEITH (Sunday)
The hosts will be looking forward to this game and they will be full of confidence on the back of a very impressive 5-1 away win in the University derby.
Stirling will also hope that they can take advantage of Keith’s poor run of form where they have only managed to pick up four points from a possible 15 in the last five games. However, the Highland league side will be hopeful that a cup game will give them a chance to ignore their league form and pull off a great result. They defeated Lowland League side Gala Fairydean Rovers in last year’s competition.
Kieran Hall has been impressive for Stirling Uni this season and already has four goals in the league so Keith will have to ensure they pay close attention to him at all times.
Ones to watch
University of Stirling: Kieran Hall
Keith: Cammy Keith
DALBEATTIE STAR VS KELTY HEARTS
Both sides in this one are familiar with each other having met in the opening fixture of the Lowland League season. It ended 2-2 in that one, however since then Kelty have found their feet in the league and currently sit in 3rd place whilst Dalbeattie lie in 11th.
Kelty have been superb so far in their inaugural season in the league and go into this one on a four match unbeaten run. Their quality has shown with players like Stephen Husband and Stuart Cargill flourishing but the hosts will be hoping that they can break some Kelty Hearts in this one and progress in the cup.
There are plenty of good individuals to watch out for in this game. Stuart Cargill has seven goals for Kelty already this season and Mathew Gay and Stephen Husband have been excellent. Dalbeattie may be disappointed with their current position in the league but they have some impressive individual performances this season, mainly from Dean Brotherston who is the side’s top scorer.
Ones to watch
Dalbeattie Star: Dean Brotherston
Kelty Hearts: Stuart Cargill
HUNTLY VS EAST STIRLINGSHIRE
East Stirlingshire make the trip north to Huntly this weekend for their William Hill Scottish Cup first round tie.
This is the first time the Shire have entered the first round of this famous old competition as a Scottish Lowland League side. East Stirlingshire have reached the quarter-finals three times in the past while opponents Huntly’s best result was the fourth round back in 2008.
The Lowland League side ended their run of four games without victory last weekend with a narrow win over Glasgow University in the South Challenge Cup. Huntly also come into this game on the back of a win as they were 2-0 victors over Deveronvale to record their second home win of the Scottish Highland League season.
These two sides met in 2015 with Huntly winning 2-1 at Christie Park.
Ones to watch
Huntly: Kai Ross
East Stirlingshire: Ross Allum
EDUSPORT ACADEMY VS BUCKIE THISTLE
Edusport Academy start their William Hill Scottish Cup journey with a home tie against the 2016-17 Scottish Highland League champions, Buckie Thistle.
Edusport reached the second round of the competition last year after beating Rothes in a replay before suffering defeat at Elgin City. The defeat to Elgin was the first time an Edusport Scottish Cup tie had been decided in 90 minutes.
Buckie Thistle went a round further last year before losing to Brechin City. The Jags have scored six goals in three of their last six Scottish Cup ties and twenty-five goals in total. The Lowland League side have started and sit in fifth place with Buckie Thistle sixth in the Highland League table.
The Highland League side have a strong recent record against Lowland League sides having knocked out BSC Glasgow last year and Gretna 2008 the year before.