AFTER tamely relinquishing their West of Scotland Cup crown against Rob Roy last weekend, the only saving grace for Hurlford United’s players is they just have to wait seven days for the chance of redemption.

Team boss Darren Henderson said as much when ruefully reflecting on the manner of his side slumping to a penalty shoot-out defeat by the Rabs which has caused him to question the character and desire of his troops ahead of tomorrow’s Macron Scottish Junior Cup semi-final first leg encounter with Largs Thistle.

The former midfield battler pulled no punches.

“I’d say we were downright rotten except for the fact we weren’t as good as that. At 2-0 up the guys were coasting to victory but allowing indiscipline and slackness to creep in let Rob Roy back into the game and they made us pay the ultimate price in the lottery that is penalty kicks.

“I can hardly complain as we won the trophy after a final shoot-out with Beith last season. However, it didn’t make losing out last week any easier to accept.

“I could offer up the excuse of us being out of sorts from not playing a competitive fixture in three weeks, but it would only gloss over the simple truth that we were not good enough on the day.

“The last words said to the players before running out at Guys Meadow was for them to make it hard for me to leave them out of this week’s Scottish Cup game but after our horrible performance, nobody should think their position is safe. Ultimately, I’m not going to do anything rash like making wholesale changes, because it is a Junior Cup semi-final, but there is a crying need to freshen things up and I won’t shy away from it.”

Hurlford’s relatively small playing squad numbers limits Henderson's selection options which are already restricted due to Marc McKenzie’s cup-tied status with previous club Kilwinning Rangers on top of injuries looking set to rule out talisman front man Ross Robertson and ex-Cowdenbeath midfielder Jack Whittaker.

"It would be great to have our strongest possible line-up for a game of this magnitude, but we’ve got what we’ve got and the trick now is to make the most of it against a Largs side that are not merely making up the numbers.

“The two games between us have been extremely tight affairs, a last-minute goal deciding things in our favour at home while both teams scored deep into the closing stages in the 1-1 draw on our last visit to Barrfields.

“Having watched them recently to avail ourselves of their current form, we are aware of several regulars being posted missing through injury and it would be a huge ask to re-introduce them after a month’s absence, but you cannot rule out Arnie [Stuart Davidson] taking a gamble.

“On fire, Largs can be a handful and in Mark Millar they possess someone who has played at a very good level (like our own Paul Caddis) and there’s no doubt he makes them tick with his excellent decision making.

“The slick Astro-grass at Barrfields suits his playing style but we have a few guys of our own who relish doing their stuff on these surfaces and if they play on the day then I’m confident we can do well."

Henderson's side have the greater experience of the occasion, with some players taking part in their fifth semi-final in six seasons, but he said: “You might have seen it and done it but that doesn’t stop the nerves jangling and I only have to think back to last season when we underperformed big style against Wishaw but thankfully managed to get over the line.

“Our luck then ran out and the final was a sorry experience. However the only way to get over that hurt is to earn another crack at it by playing at our best over the next 180 minutes.”

Tomorrow's fixtures (ko 2pm unless stated)

Macro Scottish Junior Cup semi-final first legs (2.30pm): Largs Thistle v Hurlford Utd, Lochee Utd v Auchinleck Talbot. Premiership: Clydebank v Cumnock, Renfrew v Rob Roy, Cambuslang Rangers v Beith, Troon v Kilbirnie Ladeside, Glenafton v Pollok. Championship: Cumbernauld Utd v Benburb, Rossvale v Craigmark, Girvan v Whitletts Vics, Darvel v Arthurlie, Kello Rovers v St Rochs, Irvine Vics v Rutherglen Glencairn, Larkhall Thistle v Kilsyth Rangers. League One: Bellshill Athletic v Maybole, Shettleston v Port Glasgow, East Kilbride Thistle v Blantyre Vics, Glasgow Perthshire Maryhill, Lugar Boswell v Wishaw, Yoker Athletic v Shotts Bon Accord, Gartcairn v Royal Albert. League Two: Ardeer Thistle v Carluke Rovers, Lesmahagow v St Anthonys, Annbank Utd v Newmains Utd, Thorniewood Utd v Lanark Utd, Vale of Leven v Muirkirk, Ashfield v Saltcoats Vics.