Saturday afternoon will see managerless Scottish League Two side Elgin City face Welsh champions The New Saints, but TNS aren’t taking their part-time opponents lightly, according to Jon Routledge.
The midfielder, who is formerly of Wigan Athletic and Hamilton Academical, says of his time in Scotland:
“I had a spell at Dumbarton as well so I know a bit about the game up there. I have played the majority of my football in Scotland and I know that every team you play gives you a tough match. There are a lot of good teams and players so we know it will be hard.”
With Elgin being part-time, does that give TNS an advantage this weekend?
“I don’t think so,” says Routledge. “I think the only difference is fitness to be honest. Yes, we are full-time so we have a little bit more time to work on things in training but, without knowing many of their players, they have likely at one stage or another played at a higher level and they will have good players all over the park I am sure so we will just concentrate on ourselves and see what we can do.”
The former Liverpool trainee believes home advantage may be a positive factor for the Welsh champions against their SPFL League Two opponents.
“I don’t mind playing away from home and travelling and stuff like that but I enjoy playing at home too. We are used to our pitch, whereas teams who play on it for the first time sometimes find it hard to begin with. We also don’t know how they will react to their manager leaving; you can never tell how a group will react, it can go either way. I think they will come fully focused and try prove themselves against us but we will be ready.”
With TNS going close last season, eventually losing out to losing finalists St Mirren in the semi-finals, the 27-year-old hopes to go one step further this time around.
“Last year was good – although we would have liked to get further. We had a tough game in the last round against Livingston and were fortunate to win on penalties and we know we have a tough tie in front of us this weekend too so our main focus is only on trying to improve and getting through to the next round; if we can do that, then we can have a look and see how far we can go. For our lads, we had a little taster of the competition last year and know what to expect now. We were drawn away a lot of times last season whereas this year we have been given a couple of home ties and that side of it has been a bit better. You never know in football so we will just take it one game at a time and see how it goes from there.”