Rob Roy v Linlithgow: Stage set for Scottish Junior Cup cracker

Rob Roy will play Linlithgow Rose in the last 16 of the Scottish Junior Cup
Rob Roy will play Linlithgow Rose in the last 16 of the Scottish Junior Cup

It will be a case of friends reunited when Kirkintilloch Rob Roy and Linlithgow Rose go head to head in their Scottish Junior Cup showdown on Saturday.

Rob Roy manager Stewart Maxwell and Rose boss Mark Bradley are good pals. And there are numerous other personnel connections between the two clubs.

Rob Roy manager Stewart Maxwell

Rob Roy manager Stewart Maxwell

But all that will be forgotten - at least for a while - when the fifth round tie gets under way at Guy’s Meadow in Cumbernauld.

The match is perhaps the pick of a cracker of a last 16 draw which features a number of high-profile collisions among genuine contenders to lift the much-coveted trophy.

Record winners Auchinleck Talbot face Glasgow giants Pollok while unbeaten East Superleague leaders Bonnyrigg Rose face 2016 winners Beith.

And Linlithgow manager Bradley may take more than a passing interest in the clash between his former club Kilbirnie Ladeside and Rose’s arch-rivals Bo’ness United.

Rob Roy will face Linlithgow Rose in the last 16 of the Scottish Junior Cup

Rob Roy will face Linlithgow Rose in the last 16 of the Scottish Junior Cup

But the Rob Roy v Linlithgow clash is arguably the most intriguing of all - a tie for a bumper crowd and for all junior fans to savour. What the Scottish Junior Cup is all about.

Rob Roy have become a major force in the West over the past couple of seasons after regaining their top flight status following relegation and are desperate to go further than last year’s run to the last eight.

And Rose are undergoing a revival under Bradley after a night are league campaign last season which saw the threat of relegation looming at one point - although the Prestonfield side still managed to make the Scottish semi-finals.

Linlithgow go into the match bang in form and have been the more consistent of the two sides this season. But Rob Roy have shown over the past 18 months - most notably when knocking out holders Glenafton in an earlier round - that on their day they need fear no-one. Then there’s the inter-club connections. Maxwell and his assistant Chris McFadyen are both former Linlithgow players, while current Rose number two Paul Ronald had a spell as Maxwell’s assistant at Rob Roy.

Linlithgow manager Mark Bradley

Linlithgow manager Mark Bradley

And Linlithgow recently landed the services from Queen’s Park of midfielder Luke Whelan, one of the mainstays of Rob Roy’s superb campaign last season.

Maxwell said: “There will be divided opinion on what’s the tie of the round, depending on what side of the fence you’re sitting on.

“But it’s a big game for us and we’re looking forward to it and hopefully we can perform well on the day.

“Mark came in and has galvanised them and you can see that in their results. Mark’s a good manager, and a good pal, and I know a wee bit about them, but they’ll know a wee bit about us as well so it’s set up to be a good contest.

“Luke stays in Stirling so I think that’s probably it’s his preferred destination, because of the travelling. Good luck to Luke, I’m sure he’ll do a job for them over the course of the season - but this week I don’t want him to do a job! After that I wish him all the best.

“It will take a performance, a performance that we’re capable of. They’re a good side so we’re going to have to be on our game, we’re going to have to perform on the big stage.

“The big games are where you make your reputation. Some of our boys have got great potential and are good players but this is their chance to have a platform to really go and express themselves.

“Hopefully we can do that and if we can we’ll match anybody.”

For his part Bradley is also fully aware of the dangers Rob Roy pose for his side - but also has faith in his players who are on a 16-match unbeaten run in league and cup.

He said: “It’s a big game between two teams from the top leagues. Rob Roy have put out the holders and are on their own park, so they’ll be fancying themselves to progress.

“I am sure they think it will be difficult game but we’ll prepare for it and go the confident of getting a result to get through to the next round and put out a team that will fancy themselves for the competition.

“I’m sure Stewart’s said the same. There are four Super league teams going to go out of the competition in the next round because there’s four games where they’re paired up against each other.

“It’s probably the tie of the round through our way. The West will argue that Pollok and Auchinleck’s the tie of the round, but it will be East against West and there’s a lot of connections right now between Rob Roy and Linlithgow personnel.

“Luke was there and Paul used to be the assistant manager there and Stewart Maxwell used to play for Linlithgow so there’s lots of tie-ins.

“But that will all be put to bed pretty quickly and it will be everybody concentrating on getting through the game.”