Boss says his team much better prepared this time
East Kilbride boss Billy Stark reckons his side are better placed to challenge Albion Rovers in the Scottish Cup this weekend than they were during their Betfred Cup defeat earlier in the season.
The League One outfit dished out a 5-2 defeat when they visited K-Park in July and on Saturday they will return to town bidding to halt Kilby’s Scottish Cup progress at the third round stage.
In their first encounter, Kilby were without skipper Barry Russell and found themselves 2-0 down after five minutes before suffering one of their heaviest defeats.
But since then they have managed to find a much more settled back line and Stark believes it will be a tighter contest this time around.
He said: “We didn’t cover ourselves in glory that day defensively and to be fair to Rovers they looked very good, they played very well.
“We have come through a difficult spell from the last game where we had players on holiday, Craig Howie was out and so was Barry Russell. David Proctor was out for a spell after that as well so we were having to change things more than we wanted.
“We’ve been a bit more settled and looked more formidable in terms of our defending.
“A Scottish Cup tie with a team coming away from home, you want to make them nervous because they have everything to lose, particularly when they have won comfortably already at K-Park this season.
“People will expect them to get through the tie, so we have to be positive in terms of the way we have been in the last few games.
“We’ll be tested to the full so we’ve got to make sure we are ready for it.”
Meanwhile, Rovers have found it difficult to keep the ball out of the net recently. They have shipped 43 goals in 18 games, averaging 2.5 goals per game, compared to Kilby’s average of nearly one goal a game.
But they are also scoring goals for fun as well. There has been 23 goals in their last five games, which includes a 5-4 defeat to East Fife and a 4-3 loss to Forfar.
So goals are to be expected by those heading to K-Park.
Stark, who was assistant manager to Darren Young at Rovers last season, said: “I saw them a couple of weeks ago and their strength is with their creative players, particularly Alan Trouten.
“He has something like 17 goals so far and Connor Shields is in double figures, so they’ve got a potent threat going forward.
“But they have lost a lot of goals as well. They are a couple of leagues above us, they’ve got good players but they have not been great defensively.
“So we need to make sure we can cope with their attacking threat but at the same time we want to be testing them. We have to come up with a formula and the right personnel that will give us that.”
Point to prove Billy Stark knows EK need to be at their best on Saturday