Three-division gap won’t ruin Rob’s final fantasy
ROBERT Irving has been no stranger to happy endings during his playing career… 24 winners medals from stints with Lesmahagow and Cumnock testify to that.
But from a managerial perspective, his steering the Gow to a couple of promotions and a West of Scotland Cup semi-final appearance has to be bordering on the mediocre at best.
But tomorrow afternoon (kick-off 1.30pm) the 49-year-old whose slight frame belies a fiercely competitive streak is relishing the opportunity to change the record when he leads his Lesmahagow side through to Newlandsfield to face Auchinleck Talbot in this season’s Sectional League Cup final.
Most neutrals would regard the clash as a mismatch given Tommy Sloan’s men are three divisions higher up however a defiant Irving reckons his playing charges can get hold of the silverware to spoil any planned party down in Ayrshire.
Last night he took time out from drawing up his battle plans to say: “We trained on a 3G facility in Lesmahagow and afterwards sat the players down for a belther on what to expect from Auchinleck.
“I can only admire what Tucker and his players have achieved in the Junior game (not easy for me to say as an ex-Cumnock player) but they have strengths and weaknesses just like us and any other team so the trick is to curb one and exploit the other.
“Two of Auchinleck’s most consistent and influential players are brothers Graham and Stevie Wilson which is more than a tad ironic given their father Graham was a team-mate of mine at Cumnock and I’ll remind him if he’s around in the crowd on Sunday that back in those days I could never have imagined him cheering on Talbot in a cup final.”
Irving was giving little away on his team selection thoughts however it’s believed Lesmahagow will be along similar lines to the team that overcame Petershill 4-1 in their semi-final which would mean no starting jersey for experienced centre-back Darren Lygate who missed that game because of prior holiday arrangements.
Gow gaffer Irving said: “It’s unfortunate for Darren but his absence opened the door for our summer signing Ryan Innes from Larkhall Thistle to form a defensive partnership alongside Gary Nicholson and they’ve hardly put a foot wrong ever since.
“Gary is only 19 years of age and was playing with amateur outfit Carluke Hearts until a few months ago but he has taken the step up to like a duck to water.”
‘‘ Talbot have strengths and weaknesses in their team just like us
Lesmahagow manager Robert Irving