Cove Rangers loanee Connor Smith hopes to get one over old pal Dean Ritchie and send his club to the Championship play-off final.
Smith was team-mates in Hearts’ youth setup with Ritchie, who scored the second goal in Airdrieonians’ 2-0 win at Cove last weekend.
A win on Tuesday night against Falkirk earned Ian Murray’s side second spot and a return to the north-east this weekend, with the second leg at the Penny Cars Stadium on Tuesday night.
The winner will then go on to face either Montrose or Morton in the final, with both legs to be screened live and see spectators return to grounds.
For Smith, who is on loan at Cove from the Jambos, he hopes the bragging rights come home with him following the two-legged tie.
He said: “I’ve been pals with Dean for ages. It’s good to see a pal scoring, but not against your own team.
“I was talking to him after the game saying I’d never seen him do that before, chopping defenders inside the box.
“I’ve been at Hearts since I was seven years old, so I’ve grown up with loads of them.
“There’s two games now where I can get the better of him and I’m confident I will.”
Smith has featured in 11 games for Cove since his move to the club in January, alongside fellow Hearts kid Cammy Logan.
He has impressed playing in a wide role under Paul Hartley, in the absence of regular winger Jamie Masson.
The 19-year-old added: “I’ve been playing regularly so hopefully I can play in the first games of the play-offs and if we get through, keep my place in there.
“I’ve not really been used to playing out wide, but I feel I’ve took to it well. I’ve been playing on the left-wing – I normally play central-midfield or in the 10 role – but I’ve been happy with my performances.
🗓 The @spfl have today confirmed the revised schedule for the Championship Play-Offs
Both legs of the final will be screened live on @bbcalba
— Cove Rangers FC (@CoveRangersFC) May 6, 2021
“I’ve been coming in the pitch and getting involved, playing off Rory (McAllister) and Mitch (Megginson). I’ve been trying to get involved in the game as much as I can, but if the gaffer has asked me to stick out wide some games, then I’ll do that and take the right-back on one-v-one.
“I was at Arbroath last year and didn’t really play much. I needed to come somewhere I was going to play and Cove play proper football. The gaffer is very good and I feel like since I’ve come here it’s developed me so much more.”
Cove take on the Diamonds tomorrow afternoon looking for a first leg advantage to take down to Airdrie in four days’ time.
Smith said: “It’s massive. We’ve been playing well recently and I think the boys are more than capable of getting promoted. These are the games you want to play in.
“They’ve come into some form; I didn’t think they were going to make the play-offs. They’ve done well.
“We’re at home first, so we need to make sure we win that game. Go in, be positive and play how we’ve been playing all season.”
All four clubs have also been buoyed by the news that fans will be able to attend both legs of the final, with up to 500 seated spectators permitted for the games on May 18 and 21.
Smith added: “It would be unbelievable for the club to get to the final. It would be a great achievement.
“It will be so much better playing in front of fans. That’s the only thing that’s missing.”