League Two side Peterhead will face new opposition this Saturday when they come up against Amateur side Colville Park at Balmoor in the Second Round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
The Blue Toon have been in good form overall this season, with the bookies’ favourites currently positioned in fourth place in SPFL Ladbrokes League Two after 8 matches.
“It has been [an] interesting [start] to be honest, as my knowledge had pretty much gone [of the sides in League Two], so it has been a learning curve again. It has been tough – Stirling Albion have started the season brilliantly and they have left Stenhousemuir and ourselves trailing them a wee bit. That is fine – after the first quarter you have had your look and you then have no excuses as you then know about everybody.”
“My only negative, really, is that our home games are important to us but that is three already in which we haven’t won [in the league] – we were well-beaten by Stirling Albion but I felt it was harsh to lose [last] Saturday [at home to Berwick Rangers] and I thought it was harsh to draw with Montrose. Overall, I am happy with the start we have made to the season but I would swap a couple of those cup wins for three points in the league.”
Why does McInally feel his side have started the season better away from Balmoor?
“Teams come at you a lot more when you are away from home as the onus is on them to play you and beat you while [last] Saturday when Berwick came up, Robbie [Horn – Berwick Manager] had them set up well with 5 at the back and we struggled to break them down and that is the difference. Away from home, teams come and play at you and we have had success when that happens this year but we need to find a way to win at home because if you are going to challenge for anything you need a good home record, and we are going to need to change that home record around pretty quickly!”
The Blue Toon are only 6 points off leaders Stirling Albion, with one game left in the opening quarter.
“I don’t think there is much we could do, to be honest – I know we have lost games we maybe shouldn’t have, but, I think you need to credit Stirling Albion for their fantastic start: to be honest, that is where I am as if they maintain what they have done, they’ll take a hell of a catching for anybody. We just have got to hang in there. If we can turn these games that we have been drawing and losing at home into wins, I am sure we won’t be far away. [Last] Saturday we had a large domination of the game [against Berwick] and we missed a really good chance – a bad sitter really – before their goalie had a terrific save. Then, our achilles heel in my opinion, in not defending the set piece and we are one nil down; it then gives the away side something to hang on to and instead of playing for the draw, they had a win to hang on to. To be fair, the couple of games prior to that, we had deflated the opposition but [last] Saturday we kept the opposition in the game. For me, it is simple – when our players such as McAllister, Gibson, wee Allan Smith, Jack Leitch – who we rely on to get forward and give support – but there was nobody to give us that spark and creativity in the final third to help us get there.”
“To be honest, we have been blighted by a lot of injuries, and I haven’t had the luxury yet of having a selection headache yet,” continues the former Scotland international. “David McCracken has missed most of the games we have played through injury, Nicky Riley hasn’t been available much; Paul Cairney hasn’t been either while we have had to make certain adjustments for other players like Simon Ferry, who we have left out of the matches we have played so far on the astroturf, so, we have used our squad pretty well but it would be nice to have the headache of having everyone fit. Nicky Riley is sometimes great for games such as [last] Saturday when he can spring the offside trap or go and dribble with the ball and take on someone. We hope he will be back in two weeks – he is away for an injection in his back, hopefully that’ll sort him out.”
Looking at the Colville Park cup tie this weekend, it is a unique experience for the ex-Dundee United midfielder.
“You couldn’t have had a bigger comparison really, [between last weekend’s cup tie and this weekend’s match] unless Inverness were in the Premiership. What football is generally all about for footballers is the psychology of the game – against Inverness, there was no pressure on them, just like the Colville Park players won’t have an expectation on them when they visit Balmoor. What we need is a mental strength within the players – we can’t really win; we can obviously win the match, but, regardless of what happens, Colville Park will go away with the plaudits as they are an amateur side in the Scottish Cup and having been the only one to have gotten to the second round so far, so, we just need to be professional, try make sure we win the game and let them take the plaudits. We just have to get on with our jobs.”