JAMES MARKS is ready to press his case for inclusion in Irvine Meadow’s starting line-up for tonight’s Scottish Junior Cup clash away to Maryhill.

A quickfire debut beckons for the seasoned frontman who only put pen to paper on a transfer from Hurlford United last night much to the delight of Medda gaffer Ross Wilson who had resigned himself to heading through to Lochburn Park with just two recognised frontmen, Eddie McTernan and Daniel Mackay, in his travelling party.

The Ayrshire team boss admitted: “We have been on the lookout for another forward ever since Aaron Connolly pointed out he would be away on his honeymoon when the first round ties were being played but Slick’s availability only came to our attention at the end of last week.

“We had to move fast in order to beat off stiff competition for his signature and I feel as if his coming on board will act as a terrific fillip to our dressing room not least because Irvine Meadow now boast a quartet of strikers as good as any in Junior football.

“He is a tried and trusted goalscorer with a decent track record in the Scottish Cup with his previous clubs and I’m sure he can expect a hearty reception from our supporters who will love his energy and the fact he is a pest to opposition defenders.”

The loss of Connolly is a blow as is the injury enforced absence of midfielder Rhys Devlin for whom the cup game is coming a week too early, however Wilson insists the visitors are in decent shape for the crunch contest under the Lochburn floodlights.

He admitted: “Playing the first Scottish Cup tie of the season promises to be a momentous occasion and I just hope my players can do themselves proud in their hour and a half in the limelight.

“We have shown signs of getting our act together after a lot of disruption caused by the unavailability of key players through injuries and holiday commitments.

“The guys kept a clean sheet against Darvel last weekend , our first since the Ardagh Glass Cup sectional games and I put that down to Mark McLennan’s return from holiday finally allowing us to have a settled back four.

“Keeping things tight defensively is a must when playing away from home in Scottish ties and especially when we have a strikeforce capable of finding the net at the other end.”

Tonight’s head to head between the former cup winners – Maryhill (2) and Medda (3) – is worthy of tie-of-the-round status according to the Glasgow club’s ambitious team manager John Hughes, even though his preparations have been thrown into turmoil by a September holiday weekend selection poser.

He revealed: “We are hoping a lot of neutrals will come along and everyone connected with Maryhill is looking forward to the game but for obvious reasons I would have preferred a bye.

“Joe Begley, Mark Russell and David Mathews are all non-starters because of holiday weekend breaks booked before the first-round draw was made and it only adds to our headache that a total three players are rated very doubtful through injury knocks with Dale Clark looking our best bet to be passed fit even though he picked up a groin strain at training on Monday night.

“It’s probably fair to say we could be better prepared going into a game of this importance however we’ll give it a go and see where it takes us.”

Hughes was speaking last night ahead of taking in a Maryhill Under 19’s training session where he planned to fix up a few up and coming talents on a dual transfer basis.

He said: “Giving the younger guys a bit of focus is important for their development and we’ll certainly not hesitate to promote any deserving cases to the Juniors but a cup tie against a club of Irvine Meadow’s stature is not the stage for them.

“We will look to our more established players like Anthony Marenghi who is shaping up as a classy addition to our midfield since signing from Hurlford United and I also have high hopes for Martin McNicoll, a left-sided full-back or midfielder who previously played under me for the Scottish Amateur Select and was part of the very successful Southside Amateurs side of last season.”

Hughes has used his persuasive powers on local businessman Prince Stromboli whose company P.S.I. Decorators are currently sprucing up Lochburn Park’s surroundings.

The Hill gaffer said: “It’s a wonderful gesture by Prince who is Italian born but our deal is for improvements to be brought about off and on the pitch so the hard work starts for me now.”


Scottish Junior Cup first round: Maryhill v Irvine Meadow (kick-off 7pm).


(Kick-offs 2pm unless stated )

William Hill Scottish Cup first round: Glenafton v Threave Rovers, Brora Rangers v Girvan, Banks O’Dee v Huntly.

Scottish Junior Cup first round (2.30pm): Culter v East Kilbride Thistle, Dunipace v Dunbar Utd, Rob Roy v Glenrothes, Glasgow Perthshire v Dundee North End, Rutherglen Glencairn v Kirrie Thistle, Arniston Rangers v St Andrews Utd, Ardeer Thistle v Yoker Athletic, Penicuik Athletic v Livingston Utd, Kello Rovers v Arthurlie, Longside v Devoronside, Troon v Renfrew, Bonnyrigg Rose v Shettleston, Lochee Harp v Bo'ness Utd, Tayport v Cumbernauld Utd, Burghhead Thistle v Shotts Bon Accord, Thornton Hibs v Ellon Utd, Kilwinning Rangers v Saltcoats Vics, Musselburgh Athletic v Newburgh Thistle, Ardrossan Winton Rovers v Banchory St Tiernan, Broxburn Athletic v Fraserburgh Utd, Rosyth v Dundee East Craigie, Pumpherston v Cambuslang Rangers, Aberdeen University v Kirkaldy YM, Irvine Vics v Maybole, Lewis Utd v Bathgate Thistle, Rossvale v Greenock, Hill O’ Beath v New Elgin Newmains Utd v Annbank Utd.

McBookie.com Super Premier Division: Pollok v Hurlford Utd, Kilbirnie Ladeside v Clydebank.

McBookie.com Super First Division: Kilsyth Rangers v Darvel, Petershill v Largs Thistle.

McBookie.com Central First Division: Forth Wanderers v Lesmahagow, Neilston v Benburb, Wishaw v St Roch's, Port Glasgow v Blantyre Vics.

McBookie.com Central Second Division: St Anthony's v Lanark Utd, Vale of Leven v Johnstone Burgh, Carluke Rovers v Bellshill Athletic, Royal Albert v Ashfield, Gartcairn v Vale of Clyde.

McBookie.com Ayrshire District Division: Whitletts Vics v Lugar Boswell, Craigmark v Dalry Thistle.