Jim McInally is satisfied his side will finish no lower than third in this season’s BetFred Cup – BUT, the Blue Toon still have ambitions of reaching the next round.
Looking at how the BetFred Cup has went so far, McInally analysed by saying:
“I didn’t go into the group stages with high hopes of qualifying out of the group, but, what I did go into it wanting was a bit of confidence: last year we won the group we were in, the next day we were drew away to Rangers in the next round and before we knew it, we were playing at Ibrox in the middle of two very important league games – which we didn’t win. We were then playing catch-up. So, my thinking this year was to take confidence from the matches in our section and then go into the league campaign well prepared to try get us a better start than we did last year.”
Despite losing 5-1 to Dunfermline, the Blue Toon boss thinks that result and performance may have been the best possible experience for his new squad.
“I think defensively, we were taught a lesson. As I have said before, we need a left-back; we had Jamie Stevenson, a winger, playing there that day and to be fair, he had a great second half, but in the first-half we were caught out. I took a lot of heart from our performance at Dunfermline – most people at Dunfermline weren’t there to watch us and probably though we done alright but I had a look at the statistics and we had 14 shots at goal, which is pretty good for a team in our league to go away from home and we also had a lot of good play. Yes, we had got ripped apart at times, but Dunfermline’s players were clever. What that defeat done to us was switch us on to that kind of movement but Hearts didn’t have those types of players, so we found it easier to play against Hearts.”
Speaking on Friday, ahead of today’s match with Elgin, McInally said:
“This game is as close to a Derby as we can get. It is always competitive, we haven’t played each other for 3 years now. We know we only have a small chance of qualifying – I ain’t daft, one of the bigger teams would need to slip up somewhere to go through but we still need to go and win the game as if anything does happen elsewhere, then we benefit from it. It is good to have a look at each other in advance of the league as we play each other again in the next couple of weeks. It is the first time we are playing opposition from our league this season, so it gives us a chance to test ourselves and see where we are going to be going into the season. I think it will be interesting because we play so soon afterwards, so it’ll be good to see how we fare.”
Peterhead are guaranteed to finish third in Group B, and McInally feels no matter what happens today, his team have had a successful campaign.
“I would be satisfied; we played well and beat East Fife in the first game and our defeat to Dunfermline last week, to be fair, was against a really good side, but, we did show we can play a bt, especially in the second half. We could’ve got 3 or 4 more goals last week and we took that into the Hearts game, which was a major positive. If we can get a positive tomorrow, then, it’d be a successful campaign for us. The irony is, if we win tomorrow, we could go out of the tournament despite winning three games out of four.”
McInally wanted to conclude with a personal message to the Peterhead supporters ahead of today’s visit to Elgin.
“After getting relegated last season, I felt so bad about that. I know the other night doesn’t make up for it, but it was great to see so many happy supporters after the game. I hope you can come along and support us this afternoon. We will be giving our all and trying to win the game. Generally speaking, over the course of the season, I think you will enjoy seeing us play and hopefully it can end in success for us this time around.”