Stephen Swift and Mark Crilly are pinning their hopes on the arrival of Stranraer loan signings Adam Forde and Sam McLoskey helping Kilbirnie shoot down Kilsyth today and secure a place in the Scottish Junior Cup last 16.

The 20-year-olds have both played first-team football this season, however Stair Park gaffer Stevie Aitken believes a spell in the Juniors will help their development and he had no hesitation in allowing the pair the pair to move to Valefield and come under the tutelage of his former team-mates.

Lightning quick forward Forde, who previously played with Neilston, will be particularly welcomed by the Blasties management duo after their recent transfer of hitman Iain Diack to Sauchie left them with only two recognised frontmen in veteran Richie Barr and youngster Graham Boyd.

Swifty, who is resigned to going into today's tie - weather permitting - without defender Joe Coleman because of a family bereavement, said: "We were looking a bit thin on the ground up top, so Mark and I got in touch with Stevie after learning he was keen to put a couple of players out on loan and he did us a really good turn considering other Junior clubs were interested in the guys.

"We've only had a look at them in training this week, but both ooze quality, with Adam appearing to be very alert penalty-box type, while Sam is a very confident left-sided player who has a good engine and wants to get on the ball and make passes.

"Mark and I are a lot happier for having them on board and we are pretty sure our supporters will take to them and go out of their way to make the guys feel welcome."

Visiting gaffer Keith Hogg, who was on Ayr United's books along with Crilly, and was capped at Junior Scotland level alongside Swift, reckons he cannot compete with the Blasties management duo in terms of transfer budget.

But he has warned his former team-mates his players are a match for any opposing side on their day.

Hogg said: "Mark was always a thinking footballer and I'm not in the least bit surprised he has moved into management and is making a decent fist of improving Kilbirnie's lot along with Stevie.

"They were very successful in their own playing careers and have built up an array of contacts which, along with the considerable resources put up by a club like Kilbirnie, clearly helps no end when it comes to attracting the best players.

"I know this from recent experience after losing out in the race for Boyd, who was a promising juvenile striker with Tower Hearts last season, but you also have to recognise that quality Juniors such as Chris Craig, Billy Gibson and Chris Wilson command top-dollar wherever they go.

"No doubt this Kilbirnie side will be strong favourites to come out on top today, but if my players produce their best on the day then I wouldn't bet against us giving them a bloody nose."

Kilsyth don't lack for experienc,e with their ranks boasting old heads Paul Doyle, Michael Dukes, Stevie McPeake and the McBride brothers Kevin and Paul, as well as a three-times Scottish Cup winner in former Auchinleck Talbot full-back Liam McVey.

Hogg insisted: "Liam has found a new lease of life following a pretty difficult time of it at Pollo,k and his coming back to his best has undoubtedly played a major part in bringing on young Nikky Prentice on the left side of our midfield.

"He is a product of Campsie Black Watch and has a real chance of going far in the game, particularly if he keeps listening to the experienced ones around him.

"I only kept six players from last season and it's taken time to gel, but Joe Barclay and Mark Duffy are getting among the goals, so everyone is looking forward to testing ourselves against Kilbirnie.

"And our core of experience running through the team will ensure we will relish silencing the Kilbirnie fans, who provide a terrific atmosphere, but at the same time make Valefield arguably the most intimidating venue in West Region."

The Kilsyth boss added: "Both Kilbirnie and ourselves could be sick of the sight of each other if the game were to be drawn as we are due to face each other at Duncansfield in the New Coin Holdings Cup two weeks from now."

Elsewhere, Cambuslang are inviting offers for ex-Shotts midfielder Simon Marriot, while Neilston have boosted their forward-line resources ahead of today's trip to face Ardeer Thistle with the acquisition of bustling striker Daniel Mackay from Beith.

*Fans should check with their clubs before travelling today.