Evening Express

Fraserburgh and Inverurie Locos to fight it out tonight for Irn-Bru Cup place

Locos Jonny Smith, right, in action in an earlier match.

Both Inverurie Locos and Fraserburgh have their sights set on an Irn-Bru Challenge Cup run to remember – but only one can reach round one of the competition.

The teams, who finished third and fourth in the Highland League last season, meet tonight at Harlaw Park in the preliminary round of the Challenge Cup.

Awaiting them in the first round are Highland League rivals Formartine United.

But the tournament also contains Championship big guns like Dundee United, Ross County and Inverness Caley Thistle.

Both the Railwaymen and the Broch would love a run in the Challenge Cup and the chance to be involved in some glamour games.

Jonny Smith, who joined Locos last week from Cove Rangers, said: “It’s something we want to progress in. It’s important for the club.

“The club deserve to be in the first round proper and it would be good to get there.

“It’s a good experience for the boys in terms of the games you can get.

“It’s good exposure for the club also. Hopefully if you can progress then you get the chance to play some big teams.

“But we can’t overlook Fraserburgh because they are very tough to play against.

“They also deserve to be in the competition so it will be harsh on whoever doesn’t get through.”

Smith made his debut in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Buckie Thistle and wants to build on that result in this cup.

The striker added: “I enjoyed my debut, we got a good result against Buckie and I’m happy to get that out of the way.

“The lads are ready for it, we have a decent squad so we just need to perform and see where that takes us against Fraserburgh.”

The Broch are playing in the Challenge Cup for the first time.

Bellslea boss Mark Cowie is excited by the prospect and would love to progress and get the opportunity to face some of the big names in the competition.

He said: “There are big names in the cup and you want the chance to experience something different.

“We’ve never played at grounds like Tannadice so it would be good to get there.

“Plus you’ve got your teams from throughout the UK and Ireland.

“So you might get a trip or get them up to play Fraserburgh.

“It’s good for us, we want to get a taste of that and aim for it every year.

“But we know Inverurie is going to be a very difficult game and we’ll do well to get past them.”

Fraserburgh started their Highland League season by beating Strathspey 5-1 at home on Saturday.

Cowie was happy with that display, but knows facing Inverurie will be another step up and he is planning to rotate his squad due to a hectic schedule which is set to see them play in seven of the first eight midweeks of the new season.

He added: “We’ve got a busy schedule so I’ll have to utilise my squad from the team who played on Saturday.

“I have to keep the team fresh. It looks like we’ll play seven out of the first eight Wednesdays so I can’t play the same team all the time.”