A FIRST time for everything moment arrives for Junior boss Tony Fraser today when his Cumbernauld United side face former club Rutherglen Glencairn in a vital Premier League clash.

The 41-year-old agreeing to take charge of United in April this year after previous gaffer Kieran McAnespie tendered his resignation came as something of a surprise as his appointment onto the Ru’Glonian club’s coaching staff was taken as a surefire sign of him being groomed to eventually take up the Glens’ reins from long serving manager Willie Harvey.

Many of the players he coached or indeed called team-mates before deciding at the start of the 2020 season to hang up his boots are still on the books of his former club and Tony reflected on this irony when looking ahead to the prospect of the Guys Meadow locking of horns.

Last night he admitted: “I’ve no doubts it’s going to feel so strange to be going up against the club where I spent the past five years and very enjoyable ones at that if truth be told.

“Having this close connection with the Glens is to be expected when you consider I spent such a huge chunk of my playing career there, in total close on ten years over two separate spells, firstly under the Scott Smith and Willie Patterson partnership as well as  latterly when Willie Harvey brought me back and I was fortunate both times to be part of league title winning sides though  arguably the greater memories are from the more recent Championship and promotion winning team that included the likes of Dale Simeon, Gary Smith and Del Esplin.

“I’d still be there but for the opportunity presenting itself to be my own man at another of my former clubs Cumbernauld where I also enjoyed many good times and probably my only regret was cutting my ties with Willie.

"He brought me into the Juniors at Vale of Clyde close on 20 years ago and I’ll forever be indebted to him.”

The seasoned Fraser is full of praise for his mentor, declaring himself “suitably impressed” by Glencairn’s top flight performances this season which has the visitors holding down seventh place in the standings and nine points better off than their 15th in the table hosts going into today’s encounter.

Tony said: “I’ve heard the Glens described as the Premier League’s surprise packets but that’s something of an unfair tag when you look around Willie’s squad and see the mix he has brought together of big physical types and outstandingly skilful  individuals.

“Mick O’Byrne, Kieran Coleman and Tam Miller give little away defensively while Sean McGuire operating as a ball winner in front of them allows the gifted Harry Mitchell and Lone brothers Michael and Tommy to focus on doing their stuff further forward.

“And he has also unearthed a key cog in young striker find Jack McIlveen  so little wonder the Glens are knocking on the door of the top six.”

He added: “They pose a threat at set plays but we have big units ourselves in the shape of Danny Boyle , Stephen McDevitt and  David Cameron so I’ll be disappointed if we ship goals through not being competitive.

“McD is 37 years of age and was only supposed to play occasionally but he’s been a revelation since coming on board and we just cannot do without  his leading by example qualities."

United boss Fraser will not be alone if the banter is flowing between the respective dugouts as his assistant Chris Zok can also count Glencairn as one of his former clubs while United’s 28 year old striker Liam Gormley is facing a fitness battle to be passed fit for the visit of the club that considered him surplus to requirements as recently as late August.

His manager, having already ruled out Klark Thomson after the tenacious midfielder underwent back surgery this week insisted: “Liam tweaked his hamstring against Bonnyton Thistle last weekend but has come in for extra treatment sessions such is his desperation to face Glencairn.

“We‘ll give him every chance of making it but we’re not short of replacement options as Kieran Hannoway , who came through the Glencairn Under 20 ranks is equally champing at the bit to show what he can do.”

Glens chief Harvey looks certain to recall Mitchell and fellow regulars  Scott Schoneville , Reece Pearson and goalkeeper Matt McGinley after the quartet were omitted from last Saturday’s starting line-up against Neilston in the Southside Demolition Cup.

Elsewhere, Glenafton, on the same precarious 21 points mark as Cumbernauld, will unveil latest recruit Hugh Kerr (ex-Rossvale) for the visit of fourth from bottom Largs Thistle to Loch Park.

The signing of Kerr, previously a tried and trusted goalscorer with Lanark United, is a clear indication of the Ayrshire side’s desire to avoid relegation and comes only a matter of weeks after the double boost given to  manager Mick McCann’ s selection hand with the additions of midfield playmaker  Jambo McKernon and ex-Troon striker Ryan Nisbet.

Kilbirnie Ladeside will look to give a shot in the arm to their hopes of beating the drop by picking up all three points away to bottom markers Bonnyton but things don’t look so promising for Blantyre Vics, tasked with the likelihood of a tenth consecutive league defeat when heading down to take on  strong going Irvine Meadow.

PLAYING TODAY: (Kick Offs 1.30PM unless stated): Willaim Hill Scottish Cup.Fourth Round Replay(3PM).Darvel v Brechin City.

PDM Buildbase Premier League. Cumbernauld Utd v Rutherglen Glencairn, Auchinleck Talbot v Benburb, Bonnyton Thistle v Kilbirnie Ladeside , Glenafton v Largs Thistle, Rossvale v Beith, Hurlford Utd v Rob Roy, Irvine Meadow v Blantyre Vics, Pollok v Cumnock.PDM Buildbase Conference League A.Shotts Bon Accord v  Forth Wanderers , Craigmark v Arthurlie, Maryhill v  Glasgow University,Bellshill Athletic v Whitletts Vics , Lesmahagow v Irvine Vics, Saltcoats Vics v Girvan, Muirkirk v Maybole, Johnstone Burgh v Lugar Boswell.PDM Buildbase Conference League B. Port Glasgow v Ashfield, Newmains Utd v Ardeer Thistle,Renfrew v Thorniewood Utd, Kello Rovers v Royal Albert, Greenock v Dalry Thistle , Cambuslang Rangers v Glasgow Utd, Carluke Rovers v Gartcairn.PDM Buildbase Conference League C. St Anthonys v Drumchapel Utd, St Rochs v Vale of Clyde, Wishaw v Neilston, Vale of Leven v Lanark Utd, Ardrossan Winton Rovers v Yoker Athletic, , Glasgow Perthshire v East Kilbride Thistle,  Kilsyth Rangers v Larkhall Thistle.PDM Buildbase Division Four. Campbeltown Pupils v St Peters, Glenvale v Harmony Row, B.S.C. Glasgow v Finnart, Kilsyth Athletic v Harthill Royal.