North-east side Cowie Thistle are hoping to topple one of the giants of Scottish amateur football on Saturday.
The Stonehaven outfit welcome Shortlees to Jim Glennie Park in Mineralwell (2pm kick-off) for their Scottish Amateur Cup last-16 tie .
While Premier Division outfit Cowie have made club history by getting so far into the competition, emulating fellow Aberdeenshire team Rothie Rovers last term, their Ayrshire visitors lifted the trophy two seasons ago and participated in the senior Scottish Cup as a result.
Cowie coach Neil Cursiter, who works alongside boss Ross Adie, Scott McLaren and Steven Fraser, said they are “under no illusions” about the challenge of the game.
The club – founded in 1984, and with a previous best of the last-32 – have, however, reached the sixth round of the cup the hard way, with Neil explaining: “We’ve been to Glasgow three times already and Fife once.
“In Glasgow, we won 2-1 on each occasion.”
“We’ve done fairly well so far.”
After a 4-3 win over local boys Kaimhill United in the first round, Cowie’s first trip to the west coast was against St Rochs, with the visitors inflicting a first home defeat of the season on the Glasgow team.
Then followed a third-round clash against Fossoway in Fife, which the Shire side won 6-4, despite being 4-1 down at half-time.
The fourth and fifth round were both Glasgow games, first against Glasgow University and then Giffnock North.
In the latter match, Cowie were 1-0 down before turning it round with 85th and 93rd-minute goals.
Neil is at pains to put his finger on why they’ve got so far in the Scottish Amateur Cup this term, but revealed the club have been aided in their remarkable run by strong travelling support, saying: “For the away games we’ve ran a 33-seater bus, apart from the last round, where it was a 49-seater.
“We’ve got a wee band of supporters who come along, with family and stuff.”
All of this has come in spite of a start to the “domestic” season Neil admitted was poor, after a high turnover of players in the off-season, with an upturn in form as the campaign has progressed.
He added: “We’ve played less games than everyone, so we’re a wee bit behind.
“We started the season terribly to be honest, but we’re still in the local cup competitions, as well as the league.
“On Saturday, we reached the quarter-finals of the North of Scotland Cup, and we’re still in the AFC Trophy and Association Trophy.
“We’ve have only lost 2 games in the last 14 and we still also have 14 league games to play so it will be a tough end to the season.
“The team’s bonded quite well and performances show that.”
Now, with a home tie finally, Cowie Thistle will be bolstered as they look to get even further in the competition.
Neil said: “With the aid of some of the players’ mums we are going to put on a table with tea, coffee, bovril, sausage rolls, juice and chocolate.
“We’re looking for as many locals to come down and cheer us on, as it’s quite an achievement really. It’s not something local teams generally get this far in.”
“If we do win on Saturday and make the quarter-finals, we are potentially two games away from playing at Hampden in the final in April.”