The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)
Saturday brings the Scottish Cup third round to three Highland League clubs with designs on progress.
Brora Rangers, Inverurie Locos and Formartine United all have the chance to get into the fourth round and potentially land one of the SPFL’s bigger clubs.
Brora made it to the fifth round at the start of last year and earned a trip to Kilmarnock. A 4-0 defeat was not the result they wanted but for one of the country’s most northerly clubs to acquit themselves in such a manner, against a side managed by now-Scotland boss Steve Clarke, deserved huge credit.
En-route they beat league sides East Fife and Stranraer on the road, highlighting a taste for giant-killing in the world’s oldest cup contest.
This weekend they face the most difficult game of the three, heading to Cappielow to take on Championship side Morton.
Murmurs of discontent around Cappielow have set in, after a promising start to the season was derailed by back-to-back humblings by Inverness.
They will still start Saturday as overwhelming favourites to progress.
But Brora, who have assembled an attack-minded squad geared towards challenging for the Highland League title, will believe they can cause an upset in Greenock.
Inverurie Locos have hit form under new boss Andy Low. They sit joint-top of the Highland League with Brora and are picking up big results, such as wins over Formartine and Fraserburgh in the last month.
Memories of having Premiership regulars Motherwell at Harlaw Park a decade ago will come into focus should they eliminate Broxburn Athletic on Saturday afternoon. Broxburn are no underdogs themselves, having eliminated League 2 play-off hopefuls Cowdenbeath 3-0 in the second round.
The junior club had already come through two qualifying rounds to make it into the competition and will
“They will start Saturday as overwhelming favourites to progress”
present stern opposition for their trip to the north-east.
Formartine have become an established cup side since Paul Lawson took over in 2017. They won the double of Aberdeenshire Cup and Highland League Cup in his first season, following it up last season with triumph in the Aberdeenshire Shield.
Their opponents are East Kilbride, perennial challengers at the top of the Lowland League. They have missed out on promotion to the SPFL in the pyramid play-offs in recent years but have slipped off the pace this season, with big-spending Kelty Hearts leading the charge.
Formartine have been patchy in the league but found some of their best form in the cup competitions over the last few seasons. The fact the game is in Pitmedden, too, should give them a competitive advantage come kick-off time.
The Highland League has seen many sides during its long history who have enjoyed memorable runs in the Scottish Cup. This year may well be no different.