'I feel sorry for them': St Andrews United boss Robbie Raeside reacts to being handed home cup advantage against Kennoway Star Hearts

St Andrews United’s bid to reach the last 16 of the Challenge Cup has been boosted by unexpectedly being handed home advantage in their fourth round encounter against Fife rivals Kennoway Star Hearts, after the original match at Treaton Park last Saturday was postponed due to a frozen pitch.
Robbie Raeside's team have been handed home advantage against Kennoway Star Hearts (Pic Scott Louden)Robbie Raeside's team have been handed home advantage against Kennoway Star Hearts (Pic Scott Louden)
Robbie Raeside's team have been handed home advantage against Kennoway Star Hearts (Pic Scott Louden)

With the winners of the tie advancing to host Ashfield – currently fifth in the West of Scotland League first division – in round five on Saturday, February 3, East of Scotland League officials have swiftly pencilled in Tuesday, January 30, kick-off 7.30pm, as an alternative date, with Saints’ Recreation Park chosen for the round four game this time as Kennoway’s floodlights are not working.

“Kennoway’s park was frozen on Saturday so we offered to play the game on Sunday instead but they couldn’t manage that,” Saints manager Robbie Raeside told the Herald and Citizen.

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"That was unfortunate and now the league have reversed the fixture because it has to be played this midweek.

"We never asked for that. It’s been a decision by the league and the cup secretary.

"I actually feel a bit sorry for Kennoway because they had the game taken away from their home venue.

"It wouldn’t bother me going to play Kennoway as it’s not too far away. It’s just that the weather has beaten them.

"It’s a great opportunity for us.”

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With the tie at Kennoway frozen off, United instead played a training game on astroturf on Saturday, which Raeside said was “perfect preparation” for this Saturday’s East of Scotland League first division trip to face second-placed Dunipace on their artificial surface at Westfield Park.

Saints go into the match in fourth place with 33 points from 15 matches, just one point behind third-placed Camelon Juniors who occupy the final promotion position having played one game more than Raeside’s men.

The boss added: "I think there’s a long way to go for promotion. It’s going to be really tight and there will be a lot of twists and turns.

"Whether we win, lose or draw on Saturday, it’s not going to put us out of promotion.

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"But if we can get a win on Saturday then it’s going to put a great marker down for the rest of the season.

"I think Dunipace have got good pace in wide areas.

“They’ve got a dangerous striker and it will be a difficult game but certainly not one we’re scared of.

“I’m looking forward to the game because it’s on astroturf. It’s very different in the winter from training on astroturf to then playing on grass pitches.

"I think playing on the astroturf will suit us."

Raeside said there was “good and bad news” for United in terms of the players he has available for facing Dunipace.

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He said: "It’s swings and roundabouts, it’s what you’ve got a squad for.

"I think I’ve had one Saturday this season where I’ve had everybody available. There always seems to be something going on.

"Scott Reekie is back available, he’s trained well this week. It’s a big boost getting him back.

"The negatives are that Kyle Sneddon and Cammy Lumsden are both suspended for one match. It’s a blow losing Kyle and Cammy but it gives others an opportunity.

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"It’s a squad game. It’s not about 11 players and we’ll certainly have a team that’s not going down there to shut up shop. We will go there to go toe to toe with them.”

United are in league action for the first time since a shock 1-0 home loss to Leith Athletic on January 13.

Raeside added: "I’ve not really dwelled on the Leith game too much because that’s us halfway through the league season and if you'd offered me where we are right now at the start of the season I’d have bitten your hand off.

"It’s a massive second half of the season ahead and one we should be looking forward to and be excited about.”

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