Mar 16 2012 By John Woods
KILWINNING Rangers have been dealt a major injury blow as they prepare to travel to Largs for Saturday's glamour Emirates Scottish Junior Cup quarter-final tie.
Top scorer Ben Lewis suffered a badly-gashed ankle in last weekend's win at Darvel and the youngster is rated a major doubt for the crucial last-eight clash.
But, said manager George Grierson, whether Lewis makes it or not, he'll not deviate from the system which has seen cup shock troops Buffs go unbeaten in all competitions since October.
“Even if Ben doesn't make it, and I'm not saying he won't, we'll stick to the 3-4-3 formation which has served us so well this season,” said Grierson.
“We've had Largs watched and while they don't lose a lot of goals they don't score many either and I feel if we get our noses in front we can cause a shock.”
The Buffs boss was delighted at a “very professional display” at Darvel last weekend.
“We killed the game early on and after we went 3-0 up we just closed it out,” he added. “I was very pleased with the result.”
Buffs went down 2-0 at home to Largs in August but, with eight different faces in the Abbey Park squad this time round, it will be a whole new ball game ths weekend.
“Ben has scored 20 goals so far this season, Mick Hart 19, and the rest of the team are chipping in as well – even the elder statesmen like Neil Shearer and Roland Fabiani are getting among the goals.”
Grierson reckons that's all down the camaraderie in the dressing room and his opinion was echoed by man of many clubs Fabiani who picked up gongs galore first time round at Abbey Park and admits he's having the time of his life.
“We've maybe not got the star names and big money signings who were here ten years ago but believe me, this is the best dressing room I've ever been involved with,” he admitted.
“The spirit's terrific, there's a real all-for-one attitude and everybody just wants to do well for the club and the fans.”
Buffs will take a big support on Saturday and once again Grierson is appealing for the people of the town to turn out in force.
“It makes such a difference and all the boys really appreciate it,” he said.
“We're not going to Largs for a day out at the seaside.
“This is a serious business and we want to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2007.
“We're an Ayrshire League team and we'll give Largs the respect a Premier League side deserve – but we're going there to try and win.
“The first goal's the key and if we get it we can pull off the shock of the round and send a lot of people home with a smile on their faces.”
Fans of a certain vintage will perhaps be wanting revenge for a certain night at Somerset Park in 1994 when Largs beat red-hot favourites Buffs in the semis on their way to winning the trophy.
But this Kilwinning side is too young to have such thoughts – they'll just play the game with no preconceived ideas and that's probably the best way to go about matches like this.