Beith Juniors FC: My Site News: Rockware Glass Cup Final Preview

Tuesday, October 5
Rockware Glass Cup Final Preview
Beith's Derek McCulloch goes into tonight's Rockware Glass Sectional League Cup Final against Auchinleck Talbot with a burning desire.
Not because he wants to put one over on the Beechwood Park club with whom he spent six glorious seasons. No, Del Boy desperately wants to come out on top in order for him to complete a full set of Ayrshire Junior winners' gongs.
Twice before, he was left disappointed as part of Auchinleck squads appearing at the competition's ultimate stage. In 1998 he was suspended when his team-mates lifted the trophy with a 2-1 defeat of Beith.
And 12 months later he was on the pitch - but was one of only eight Talbot players to remain on it when indiscipline contributed to them going down by the same scoreline against Kilwinning.
The 31-year-old sweeper regards tonight's Somerset Park contest as his last-chance saloon because he's not sure he can keep playing. The constant pain caused by years of impact stress on a deformed hip joint had him considering hanging up his boots in June.
"It's the main reason I asked Dennis Gray to play sweeper, where there's less tackling and running involved compared to midfield," confessed Del. "But for him I'd probably have called it a day last season. But he persuaded me to give it another go and I'm really glad he did.
"We're playing well and scoring goals, which breeds confidence to believe we can give Talbot a game of it, despite them being in the division above.
"Coming up against my old team adds an extra edge, but there won't be many familiar faces around."
Gray is utilising Del Boy's vast experience to help goalkeeper Keith Ross and centre-backs Neil Shearer and James Lundie.
Meanwhile, Beith's top scorer, John Craig, bagged a hat-trick in a 4-1 friendly against Ayr United Youths last midweek. Watching that Somerset Park run-out was Talbot gaffer Tommy Sloan, whose own side won 1-0 against the same team a fortnight ago.
"I discovered first hand just how prolific Craig is in front of goal said Sloan. "We intend to approach this final in a positive way- it will be decided by who plays better on the night."
He is desperate for a first trophy success as a manager and is willing his players to realise this ambition, despite missing George Wallace and Ian McAulay through work commitments.
Only stopper Gavin Collins remains in a much-changed backline, bolstered by Sloan's acquisitions of ex-Kilmarnock ace Derek Anderson, Greg Hendry and Liam McVey.
His switching of John Todd to midfield has turned out a master-stroke alongside the battling pair Duncan George and Brian Slaven.
Up front, bustling Scott Houston is an ideal foil for diminutive in-form striker Steven Reid - scorer of six goals in his last three outings.
Sloan added: "It's exciting to be going into a cup final with practically a new team and so very early on in my managerial career. But all credit is due to the players for getting us here. Now I want them to take that extra step because winning tonight could be the springboard for greater things."
• Nice touch from Ayr United, who've invited two representatives from every Ayrshire Junior club to be their guests tonight.
 

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