Dyce Juniors’ debut in the Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup tonight is a by-product of the youth development ambitions at Ian Mair Park.
The Superleague side have gained entry to this season’s Shire Cup, as well as the Aberdeenshire Shield, following a move to get their under-20s side into the Aberdeenshire and District Football Association’s development league.
Nevertheless, manager Alfie Youngson is hoping Dyce – who travel to Highland League Deveronvale tonight in the first round – can “get through a round or two”.
Former Dundee and Peterhead midfielder Youngson: “We paid entry in May/June time, more looking to get an under-20s side to be able to play in the ADFA’s Monday night development league.
“It was more for a pathway for the club, but the two cups came as a bonus.
“We’ve got a free week for the first Saturday (of the one-off regionalised Junior season, this weekend), so it’s worked out absolutely ideal for us the game’s come at this time, and it’ll be a tough test for us against Deveronvale, an established Highland League team.
“We’ll definitely be the underdogs going into it, but we’ll give it a good go and enjoy it.”
Junior Superleague champions Banks o’ Dee suffered an early exit from the Shire Cup at home to Buckie Thistle on Saturday.
Ex-Inverurie Locos player Youngson feels, given the Shire Cup is contested mostly by Highland sides, as well as Aberdeen’s reserves, the pressure’s off his team.
However, Dyce have proved in pre-season they can compete with outfits from the tier above, while Dee reaching previous finals has underlined the strength of the top Junior clubs in the area.
Youngson said: “We’ve played Buckie, Locos, Formartine – we’ve had mixed results.
“We got beat 2-0 at Buckie, 3-2 away at Locos and we beat Formartine 2-1 last Wednesday.
“I wouldn’t say anyone, including ourselves, were at their best in any of those games. But it’s a good gauge that we can definitely compete against those teams.
“Whether we can get over the line and beat teams the level above us (in a competitive game) remains to be seen.
“We want to enjoy the competition to start with – it’s our first competitive game in seven or eight months.
“There’s no huge expectations on us. We want to give a good account of ourselves and what will be will be. Hopefully we’ve got enough to compete.
“If we can get through a round or two it would be ideal and give us the extra match practice going into our league.”
Dyce have plenty of talent in their ranks, having signed attacker Jordan Leyden from Formartine, as well as striker Sam Robertson from Buckie. Forward Nick Gray, ex-Cove Rangers, Huntly and Turriff United, joined last term.
Youngson said: “We’ve signed Jordan Leyden.
“He’s had a mixed pre-season with injuries, but when we’ve got him on the pitch he’s been excellent.
“He’s capable of playing at the top of the level above obviously, for Formartine and Locos, and he’s only 28 or 29, so it’s not like he’s over the hill.
“Normally when guys come down from the Highland League they’re in their 30s and they’re coming back for a few years to drop a level and enjoy it.
“But Jordan’s come back at a good age through work and other commitments, so we’ve been lucky to get him in. He adds something to us.
“We’ve also got Sam Robertson, who was at Buckie last year. Graeme Stewart was good enough to allow him to come to us and he’s signed for a couple of years. He’s been very, very good for us.
“He’s only 22 and already looks like a top Highland League player – he’ll only get better with a settled run of games and place to play. He’ll be a big asset for us.”