Citylets Scottish Cup Semi Final Preview
An east versus west showdown is guaranteed in the final of this season’s Citylets Scottish Cup but the combatants will not be known until a couple of little local differences are settled in the form of two intriguing semi-finals.
Tomorrow two of the Eastern Premier’s finest go head-to-head when Carlton, who have never won the competition, host holders Arbroath who claimed the trophy for the first time in their history last August.
While battle is engaged at Grange Loan, Ferguslie and Clydesdale, currently the top two in the Western Premier, will get down to business at Meikleriggs.
Both ties are hard to call and Fraser Watts, Carlton’s experienced opener and a man who would surely love to help his side make history, is reluctant to look too far ahead.
Watts said: “We are simply concentrating on Sunday's match and then we will worry about the next one!
“Arbroath are a good side and will go into the match as firm favourites I would suggest. We will concentrate on doing what we do well and hopefully the result will be a positive one.”
Both sides have made light of potentially tricky ties in earlier rounds, Carlton disposing of Prestwick, Falkland and Greenock while Arbroath got the better of SMRH, West of Scotland and East Kilbride.
Arbroath’s progress is consistent with the holders’ resolve to mount a stout defence of their trophy though they will perhaps have to step up a notch tomorrow, albeit that they already boast a league over Carlton earlier this season at Lochlands.
Skipper Marc Petrie said: “Grange Loan is a ground where we've had a good bit of success over the past few years but I think our league win over them counts for nothing.
“They have been in good form with some of their bigger players firing. I'm not sure if they'll have any pressure given they haven't won it before but we will only be concentrating on ourselves.
“We have the desire to win back-to-back Scottish Cups but it will be tough work and we must play to our full potential to get through.”
Carlton go into the clash without three key performers in Rory McCann, Gordon Drummond and Hugo Southwell while Arbroath are close to full strength.
While Carlton have never had their hands on the trophy, it is twenty-eight years since Clydesdale won it - a rather remarkable drought for one of the country’s biggest clubs.
To stay in contention this season they must get the better of a Ferguslie team who have led the Western Premier since the opening day of the season.
The Paisley men have also enjoyed a league win over Dale at Meikleriggs and skipper Gregor Preston-Jones believes a home tie could work in their favour.
He said: “Playing Clydesdale is always a special day for the lads at our club.
“They are an excellent team and when you look at them man-for-man I’d say there aren't many better teams in Scotland.
“Playing at Meikleriggs is an advantage for us I believe as we have been excellent at home all season and for a semi-final we expect to have a large crowd backing us so it should be a good atmosphere.
“We will just be trying to replicate our league performances and hopefully the rub of the green goes our way so we can turn them over again!”
Dale skipper Majid Haq and many of his team-mates suffered the disappointment of cup final defeat to Grange two seasons ago – a bitter experience which may spur the Titwood men on.
Haq’s team claimed some revenge with their quarter-final win over Grange and he said: “That was a fantastic team win and we’ll be looking for something similar.
“There’s a chance to take part in the final of Scotland’s premier cup competition so it’s all to play for.”
Ferguslie are without the injured Taimoor Ahmad but Clydesdale are at full strength.
By Cricket Media