Links Park will host Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup Third Round match between League Two Montrose and Queen of the South of the Championship, with the Doonhamers’ boss Gary Naysmith billing this weekend’s match as a ‘big game’ for his side after missing out on reaching the semi-finals of the Irn-Bru Cup on Sunday.
Talking to QOSTV after Sunday’s match with TNS, Naysmith praised the fitness of his full-time side.
“I think our fitness was particularly telling in extra-time as TNS are full-time, as well. I felt we were a wee bit stronger than them and creating chances. You are always worried they will catch you on the breakaway but we dealt with them well. They had a few half-chances and things like that but I can’t actually remember Alan [Martin] making too many saves. After the first 25 or 30 minutes, I felt we were comfortable, with the lads carrying on the good form that they have been showing in the league, there is no doubting that. The problem today was that we just couldn’t put the ball in the net.
We couldn’t have gone any more attacking, either. We had Del [Derek Lyle] and Dobbs [Stephen Dobbie] up top, Andy Stirling wide left; Chris Kane, who is normally a centre-forward, wide right with James McFadden in the centre of the park too so we couldn’t really put any more attack-minded players on. We were basically left with Ky [Kyle Jacobs, in the centre of the park] while the other five were allowed to go and attack as we wanted to win the game as we are conscious when matches go to penalty-shoot-out’s, anything can happen but we wanted to win the match. If we had taken one of our chances, on another day we would have been through, but, that is football. We had a great support today and they will be feeling the hurt as well because they have made this journey they supported the boys great – it looked like 300 or 400 travelled down and the players really did appreciate that. We now need to pick ourselves up and get ready to face Montrose in what is a big game for everyone at the club.”
Naysmith couldn’t have asked for better preparation ahead of the TNS match.
“I have enjoyed the whole thing – training at Palmerston yesterday [Saturday 11th November] then we got our lunch there before travelling down. We got a wee bit of a bonus having travelled down on Burnley’s coach – a bit of luxury in what was a bit of luck as it just landed on our laps, really. The players enjoyed that as they had tables, leather chairs and a wee kitchen so they could get a coffee and things like that, so that was all good before the club put us up in a hotel last night where the food was great. We done everything right but at the end of the day, we got beat – whether that is on penalties or not, we got beat…that is what we need to reflect on when we wake up in the morning.”
With this weekend’s opponents a team Naysmith’s side has struggled against already this season, the 38-year-old will be hoping a more comfortable afternoon is in store when he travels to Links Park on Saturday.
“It is a big game as we want to get through. Montrose are a good team and I think we are the only side who has beaten them in their last 6 or 7 matches. The good thing is, we have already played against them so it won’t be a surprise in terms of what we are going up to see and that should help the lads as the first-half up there in our last meeting is probably the poorest we have been all season, but we rescued it!
I am sure we won’t be as slack as that again. We are aware we want to get through in the cup for a multitude of reasons: we want to win the game; we want to get as far as we can but we also want to get through to try and earn as much money for the club as we can as in return, that’ll hopefully help us strengthen the team come January. The biggest thing for us, as a group, is that – while it was only on penalties – we got in our last match and on Saturday against Montrose we need to make sure that it isn’t two defeats in a row.”