Glencairn's nearly men have Emirates Cup score to settle

Kevin Bell believes Glencairn's "nearly men" could help them go all the way in the Emirates Scottish Junior Cup.

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Kevin Bell will keep his place after top show
Kevin Bell will keep his place after top show

The experienced keeper is no stranger to hard-luck stories in the competition after wearing the gloves in the Rob Roy side beaten 1-0 over two legs by eventual trophy winners Auchinleck Talbot in 2009.

But he has learned his is not the only tale of woe inside a Glens dressing room where ex-Rabs midfielder Dean Muir and Ross Ballantyne (Arthurlie 2007) can similarly claim to know what it feels like to be a faller at the penultimate Emirates hurdle.

Yet their disappointment pales into insignificance when compared with that of team-mates Stevie Aitchison and Andy McLay, who between them have made six losing semi-final appearances.

Both featured in the Aitchy-skippered Pollok sides that lost out in consecutive seasons to Bathgate (2008) and Clydebank (2009), while playmaker McLay can lay claim to double heartbreak as a Maryhill player against Pollok (1998) and Lochee United (2005).

And the so-near-yet so-far memories are not confined to the players because manager Willie Harvey was the No.2 to Davie McDermott when Glencairn last made it to the quarter-finals 21 years ago only to lose out to Whitburn.

East Region Pumpherston stand in the way of the Glens progressing to the last eight, however Bell – who saved a penalty in last weekend's 1-0 defeat of Blackburn United – does not believe he or his team-mates will approach the tie with any complacency.

He said: "Bookmakers have made us favourites and we have the advantage of playing at home, but you won't find anyone in our dressing room thinking we are as good as in the next round.

"Pumpherston are an unknown quantity, and that makes them very dangerous opponents, so you can take it they will get our utmost respect, particularly as Andy and Aitchy have that mentality. They have an aura and presence about them from winning trophies, so the younger guys will take their lead from how they approach this game.

"And I know from our discussions just how much the pair of them want this cup run to continue."

Bell was making his Emirates debut against Blackburn in only his second competitive outing for the Glens, but his man-of-the-match performance has established him as the No.1.

He added: "I joined the club in October, but haven't played many games due to Kevin Montgomery's form and a spate of postponements.

"But I'm really enjoying my football again, so it was no problem staying patient awaiting my chance to impress, and now I hope to get a run of games."

His wish looks set to be granted after Glens boss Harvey praised his goalkeeper, saying: "Kevin relieved the pressure against Blackburn by coming to take crosses and saving the day on three one-on-one instances, over and above his penalty save.

"The guys took inspiration from him and I felt we played our best stuff in months, with Andy pulling the strings in midfield and Brett Agnew teaming up well alongside Dennis McLaughlin in our attack."

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