Beith defensive mainstay Ryan Docherty has called today’s Macron Scottish Junior Cup clash against Kello Rovers “a great opportunity” as he and his team-mates prepare to go toe-to-toe with the rank outsiders for a place in this season’s semi-finals.

But there’s not a complacent thought in the head of 33-year-old Doc, for whom memories are all-too-vividly fresh of a shock 4-1 beating at home to Lochee United in the Ayrshire side’s previous appearance at the last-eight stage in 2018.

He recalled: “Beith won everything but the Scottish that year and I think it would be fair to say Lochee caught us unawares on the day.

“Playing in front of our own supporters, we were strongly fancied to get through – in much the same way as we are against Kello – but Lochee’s players showed a far greater desire and hunger for the occasion and tore us apart.The vast majority of our team are still at the club, so this is our chance to make amends to a lot of people, not least of all, ourselves and we are determined not to mess it up.”

”Kello were always going to have our respect after knocking out Irvine Meadow in the last round but more so now.”

The appointment of new manager Bryan Young towards the end of last month has sparked a mini revival of the Premiership outfit’s fortunes, with Docherty an ever-present in an unbeaten run of four games (three wins and a draw).

He insisted: “The gaffer has brought a freshness yet without changing a great deal other than introducing a few different training-ground routines and it’s pleasing he has continued to play me alongside John Sheridan in central defence as I feel more involved there.

“Butch enjoyed phenomenal success as a player and I just hope his winning habits can continue as a manager and rub off on the players here because although this hasn’t been one of Beith’s better seasons up to now, there is the potential for it to be a great one if we could just go all the way in the Scottish.

“And if we can get past this Kello hurdle then I think we might have a decent shot at it as I fancy our chances over two legs in the semis against any of the teams remaining in the cup, particularly as we are getting back to full strength with guys coming back from injury.”

Last week’s weather-enforced postponements of the Macron Cup ties has allowed key midfielder Paul Frize to recover from an ankle knock and a further boost to Young’s selection hand comes from Beith’s veteran skipper Sheridan and the versatile Kevin Green returning to training this week.

Word from the visiting Kello camp has Andy Struthers recovered from a knock that would have sidelined him had the tie gone ahead last Saturday however still a non-starter is Ross Costello, serving a one-game ban.

With tongue firmly in his cheek, Rovers boss Scott “Paddy” Clelland said: “Ross has played his part in getting us to this stage and I feel for the lad to be missing out in such a showpiece game but he’ll definitely be available for the replay next week.”

Elsewhere in Ayrshire climes, Auchinleck Talbot will attempt to reach the semi-finals for the fifth time in six years and 19th time overall when hosting the visit of neighbourly rivals Hurlford United in the Macron “tie of the round.”

Tommy Sloan’s men, seeking to extend their winning run to 10 games, will be without suspended midfielder Kieron Healey but better news surrounds Scotland Juniors striker Graham Wilson after he declared himself fully recovered from a medial ligament injury picked up in a recent game against Rossvale.

Manager Tucker revealed: “Graham would have been posted missing if the cup game had gone ahead last week so it’s pleasing to have him back training alongside the other guys and in the running.

“You need your best players for taking on a team of Hurlford’s quality, so we are just about there what has all the makings of a highly competitive game.

“Darren Henderson has good players at his beck and call can field several line ups but rather than worry about his strengths I tend to always focus on our own team first and foremost so as long as we are prepared and in good shape then the game will look after itself.”


THE remaining quarter-final contests have Darvel in fine fettle for the visit to Recreation Park of East Region hopefuls Broughty Athletic despite succumbing to a first defeat in 10 starts when losing out 3-2 in a hastily arranged friendly match away to Premiership leading lights Kilwinning Rangers last Saturday morning.

Vale gaffer Mick Kennedy will not read too much into the outcome and will be more satisfied with the game time afforded his playing charges ahead of the Ayrshire club’s bid to reach their first appearance at the penultimate stage in 35 years.

Also pleased with his side’s Cup preparations is Pollok manager Murdie MacKinnon, recovering from a recent bout of surgery and set to be in attendance (if not the dugout) for the Brig O’ Lea showdown against Neilston.

He admitted: “It’s far more important that Adam Forde and Jamie Henry are fit and champing at the bit and I’m happy to report they both came through a kickabout match with our Juvenile team this week with no ill effects.

“Tony Coutts is on the mend from his broken foot injury and had the protective boot removed last week but this Neilston game is coming too soon for him and it’s best not to throw him in at the deep end.

“We are anticipating a testing 90 minutes from a fired up Neilston and will set our stall out accordingly.”

And another thing...

LARKHALL THISTLE placing renowned hitman Graham Gracie on the transfer list may lead to an approach from Darvel while two-time Junior Cup winner Sean McIlroy’s availability at Beith is thought to have sparked interest from his hometown team Irvine Meadow.