IN the lead up to Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie against Arbroath, Locos player John Maitland gave his view on match against the League Division 2 side. John Innes asked the questions.
The next round of the William Hill Scottish Cup has given the Locos one of the toughest draws possible, Arbroath at home. Having joined Montrose in 2007 from Colony Park Football Club, did you ever play in derby games against them?
“Yes, I was fortunate enough to play for Montrose in a convincing 5-0 victory over Arbroath a few years back. The derby games always invite a large crowd as well and hopefully this Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie will attract more Locos supporters to give us their full support. Most ties at this stage of the competition are going to be difficult and it’s great to see so many Highland League teams doing well this year.”
Arbroath are a team with several highly experienced players notably player-boss Paul Sheerin and defender Alex Keddie. Will they have the players who know how to stand up to the pace Locos play at, and possibly slow the game down to their pace?
“There’s no doubt they will be tough opponents both technically and physically. Many of them have full-time backgrounds, so we know what to expect. They may not press us as high up the pitch as we are used to in the Highland League but we will not get as much time on the ball in the more dangerous areas.”
You played in the opening round 4-2 away win at Whitehill Welfare, by several accounts one of the team’s top displays of the season.
“That performance has shown us and everyone at the game what we are capable of. We went into the game as underdogs and proved most people wrong with a convincing win.”
But then the disappointment of the injury which ruled you out for a few weeks. It must have been very frustrating being on the sidelines watching the two high scoring games against Huntly (Cup then League) and not able to do anything about it?
“Yes it has been a frustrating month or so, although I have managed to get my fitness back up over the last couple weeks. I’ve missed out on some exciting games recently but there is a long way to go this season so hopefully I’ll be involved in some more”
For a player who was virtually an ever present last season and over 3000 minutes the season before, I guess injury absences must be very frustrating for you?
“I’ve been lucky over recent seasons not to have many injury problems so I cannot be too disappointed. Sometimes a short break can do you good so hopefully I’ll come back stronger.”
How is the team playing in your eyes John. Fair to say there’s been a bit of inconsistency but it’s important to be still in the pack in the League?”
“I agree we have been inconsistent but no one is walking away with the League. We picked up three important points at Forres in our last game so hopefully the confidence gained will help this Saturday and in the League. We know we have the ability but we have to focus on working hard in every game, not just the big games.”
Any changes to your pre match routine for this one or is it just trying to stick to normal eating and sleeping routines ahead of any game at Harlaw Park?
“No real change, I played for the 21s on Monday so I’ll be resting up as much as possible until training on Wednesday. We’ll train for a couple of hours then rest again until Saturday. Some of us do a little extra on Thursdays or Fridays to keep the body ticking over but nothing strenuous.
So how about Saturday. Will getting the first goal in the game be crucial because the team’s form on the road has been better than at home?
“We have to be composed and not panic whether we’re holding onto a lead or down a goal. Arbroath may give us the chance to keep possession which would suit our style of play. It will be important to keep the ball as high up the pitch as possible and to limit their counter attack. They have some pace up front with Steven Doris, someone I played with at Montrose, so I’m sure they will be a threat going forward.”