WILLIE Harvey expects Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie with Oakley United to be a tight affair, despite the Fife side’s brilliant recent form.
Oakley sit top of the ACA Sports East Premier League with four wins from four, having won promotion by winning the Superleague last year.
They are in good goalscoring form, notching eight in one cup game, and aren’t letting much past them at the back.
But the trip east holds no fear for Willie, who rates the west leagues far higher than others across the country.
While he is in no doubt that his side face a tough task to progress, he is confident his squad, which should be at full strength, has what it takes to get the job done and see the Glens progress to the next round.
He said: “They got promoted last year, they score a lot of goals and they don’t concede many. It’s going to be a hard ask.
“They will be full of confidence but we feel we can take something from the game.
“Although they are top of their division, we are not going there thinking ‘oh jeez,’ we are looking at it as a game we can win.
“This isn’t arrogance, but I always believe teams from the west are stronger than teams from the east, and I think that has been proven in the past.
“When I was at Blantyre, we went to Bankfoot up near Aberdeen and they were expecting to beat us easily. They were top of their superdivision and we were in the first division at the time, but we went and won 3-0.
“With the exception of your Bathgates or Linlithgows, teams from the west should be stronger.
“With that in mind I expect Oakley to be about our level so it will be a very, very close game.”
The Scottish Cup is sacred to almost every junior fan, but Willie isn’t thinking about cup runs, rather the opportunity to pick up some momentum after their league win a fortnight ago at Cumbernauld.
Willie gave the squad a Saturday off over the holiday weekend and had them in for set-piece work on Monday, but he would have rather played a league game.
While a win in Fife wouldn’t mean points on the board, he reckons it could help them in the long run: “It would be another win to follow our last game.
“I always look at the game in front of me because we want to build momentum rather than have a stop-start period. That’s what happened last year and we certainly don’t want a repeat.
“I would have preferred a league game at the weekend but it’s not worked out that way so we gave them the Saturday off.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us this week.”
Willie expects to have a near full squad to choose from when they travel to Oakley, and that could include skipper Andy McClay who has managed just four games all season.
Willie was forced to rush Andy back against Kilsyth a few weeks ago, but that only worsened his groin injury, but he now looks to be fully fit and the gaffer reckons that will be a major boost to the side.
He said: “It’s important to have someone like Andy there.
“He plays in midfield, has been in the senior ranks and played with the likes of Pollok at the highest level of the junior game.
“He’s a good calming influence, someone to put their foot on the ball and talk to the players around him.
“The last couple of weeks we have lost games that maybe we wouldn’t with someone with experience out there communicating to the younger guys.
“It’s easier for a player to pass out information and instruction on the park than it is from the side.”
While the season is now well underway, players are continuing to come and go at the Clyde Gateway Stadium.
After losing Matt McGinley to Morton, Willie moved to bring Mark Wilson back to the club but with Mark set to move down under to Australia in November, the search for another keeper has not ended.
But one player who has finally put pen to paper is Shaun Malloy, who officially joined from Bellshill having been with the Glens all season. The 26-year-old defender has been at the centre of a transfer wrangle between the two clubs, but after digging his heels in, Willie has got his man.
He said: “We had a fee in mind for Shaun and Bellshill had a fee in mind, but the simple fact is we couldn’t afford to pay what they wanted so weren’t flinching.
“We were prepared to go to tribunal but myself and Paul Fox at Bellshill came to an agreement.
“Shaun wasn’t going anywhere else, he’s settled here so it was good to get it sorted. He’s played a few games as a trialist and has done very well.
“We brought Mark in from Yoker to buy us some breathing space. He’s played here before and knows the place.
“I knew it was worth taking a chance on him and I didn’t want to just take someone for the sake of it, so Mark has come on board to give us time to look at a few other options.”